^ Oliver Huntemann : a monster movie’s Mike Mareen ?

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From Hamburg, Germany came DJ Oliver Huntemann on Thursday night to Machine for what, to the best of my knowledge, was his first Boston performance. His two hour set was much heralded by local connoisseurs, but few actually showed up. Even at peak hour no more than 100 fans graced the dance floor, and by 1.30 AM hardly any were still on point. Given that local maestro Jeff LeClair played a short but strong opening set, it isn’t unlikely that he is whom they came to dance with. DJ Melee also played a useful set of grungy grumble house music.

Huntemann gave it his best shot : his own tracks, segued and blended, dark and foreboding and, occasionally, coolly Moroder-istic. His sound was a sound effect : streaks and cello-like strums atop stroll and stride beats and moan-ful rumbles. His textures felt thick, his tempo turgid, his tones a mix of growl and groan. The mood was horror movie; the backdrop, monstrous; the totality, almost Goth — of the overblown, German variety in which fake Shakespearean elocution serves a grotesquely comic rubber-face. It’s been done before, though doubtless few of Hunhtemann’s Boston fans recognized it; German hi-energy disco of the mid-1980s had the same Goth moodiness — think Mike Mareen’s 1985 “Dancing in the Dark” — serving up the disco room as a spaceship moving through a midnight void. Then, it was fun, even giddy, and tempoed faster. Huntemann’s version sounded damaged, dull, defeated.

He used two red Traktor vinyl 12s and pc program and edited his sound sparingly. Many of his own tracks displayed their wares and lived up to their imagistic titles : the Goth-y “Melbourne”; a most Mike Mareen-ish “Decks and the City” ; the airs of “Aire” ; a bit of traipse and Polynesia beat in “Tasmanian Tiger” ; and the self-explanatory Cocoon’ and “Dark Passenger.” Given the ominous tone of his set, Huntemann’s “Hope,” in which the great Robert Owens voices soulfully, was not on the dance card. That was too bad. In that track Huntemann compromises his black vision just enough to win house music fans to his side.

At machine there was not winning but defeat. On and on went the monster mash, the ghostly groans, the B-movie brooding, the painful beat. Off and off went the dancers. Huntemann made no changes to his program;. He played what he plays, what he makes. imaginative it was; masterfully sculpted, brutally painted, a sound quite unusual in today’s track making and certainly more thematic than the sketchy rips of electro skrilling. Huntemann’s almost murderous moods may even portend, as experimental music often does — (Though for those who have heard the German “industrial” music, of 30 years ago, that stands behind what he does, his music may sound as much a reclamation as portentous) — but of such portents Boston dance music fans were having little and none. It would be shrewder, henceforth, to book Huntemann at a festival of experimental new music than at a mainstream dance club.

— Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music



Bill 2467

^ The State House on Beacon Bill : where H. 2467, “By Mr. Walsh of Boston, a petition…” looms mightily over the Mayor election

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Just this morning I opined about the impact that the arbitrator’s large pay raise award to the BPPA might have on the mayor’s race. Little did I know ! Only a few hours after I wrote, Marty Walsh declared his opposition to the size of the award — a perfectly reasonable opinion — only to have John Connolly call a 4.30 PM press conference on the matter. ¬†At which…

Connolly struck a body blow : that Marty Walsh, as a legislator, had sponsored and filed a bill, House 2467, by whose provisions arbitrator awards, of the exact kind now at issue, would be binding even on City Councils. And thus that Walsh’s stated opposition to the award was, in effect, opposition to himself.

The law on municipal employee arbitrations now is that arbitrator’s awards to such employees are subject to approval by the City Councils of those municipalities. If the Council doesn’t approve, back to the arbitrator goes the pay dispute. Marty Walsh’s bill would take that power away from City Councils. An arbitrator’s award would be final.

Walsh tried to explain that in fact his legislation would make an arbitrator’s award binding upon Councils only to the extent that city finances could bear it. But as Connolly pointed out, Walsh’s legislation does not contain that proviso. Though the bill’s language directs the arbitrator to factor several such concerns into his award — and says nothing about HOW the arbitrator does such “factoring” — once his award is made, that’s it.

I was sitting with a friend of mine who’s a Marty Walsh supporter — he even has two lawn signs for Walsh — when the Connolly press conference broke. My friend turned to me and said, “well that’s that. I’m not for him !” I suspect those words were said quite often in Boston late this afternoon.

It’s a very tight spot for Walsh to be in. His own legislation — H 2467 starts off saying “By Mr. Walsh of Boston, a petition…that provision be made for binding arbitration for fire fighters and police officers” — casts in stone an arbitration award that has the whole city up in arms over its size.

He has some serious, serious explaining to do — not the spin syrup that he put out today — and it had better come quickly.

Because in two days or so the City Council hears the BPPA award details and votes on it. And John Connolly will be part of that hearing.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Afterthought : ¬†Connolly’s revelation about House Bill 2467 casts a dark light on a Walsh campaign that has looked, to me, to be heading in a Romney-like direction. Just as Mitt Romney won passage of Romneycare, then proceeded to turn his back on his achievement, as a presidential candidate, so Walsh, whom Labor support lifted into a first place Primary finish, has lately taken to sounding like a chamber of commerce, Club for Growth-type business-recruiting Texas governor. It’s been curious to watch this gradual transformation; one wondered how or even if Walsh could pull it off. It seemed possible, Now it looks hyperbolic..

His campaign is also a case study in why State legislators in the Boston delegation don’t often run for mayor and, when they do, don’t get elected. With H. 2467, Walsh is using the power of the state to override the power of the City. Well and good for the labor unions whose champion he is; not so good for his appealing, now, to the entire City.

Walsh needs to rethink his campaign to;p to bottom, and fast. He has much to offer that John Connolly is temperamentally unsuited to match. His passion is infectious, His respect for everyone palpable, exemplary, But Walsh has to be a superior helmsman as well as a rock solid shipmate. Right now he has lost the helm. Connolly has it.

NOTE : I updated this story at 9.16 AM on Sunday 9/29/13.