Secret Selector Selections #18: Carsten Jensen

Primer Encuentro Latino/Alemano

Carsten Jensen is an extremely dedicated raver and record digger.

A lover of dancefloors and an appreciater of soundsystems. Truly a club music conisuer. The type of guy who spends more time clubbing at Fabric and Berghain than in Copenhagen. The type of guy who, by his own account spends 10-20 hours a week listening to previews of 500-1000 tracks. Just to find those special, perfect pieces.

Talk about looking for the perfect beat!

I mostly know Carsten from dancefloor and afterparty antics, and most of my anekdotes about him aren't fit for publishing. So instead of boring you with a long intro, let's just stick to our favorite subject: The music!


The Villalove Selection

When trying to decide what my secret selection should be I became a bit frustrated, since I had quite a few themes in mind that I wanted to present to other music lovers.

One of the ideas kept coming back to me and in the end I realised that this particular topic was inevitable. I might get some grief from friends and acquaintances for various reasons over this choice but here we go.

I’ve chosen five Ricardo Villalobos tracks.

For followers of him they are probably not that secret but I felt I needed to highlight them anyways. In a time where there is a loudness war going on in the world of music and where the loudest and noisiest music is the ruler, Ricardo Villalobos is the opposite.

He represents dynamic music with clarity and space between instruments. His music stands out in the way that no matter how high you turn up the volume it’s not noisy and it’s doesn’t make the ears tired.

Obviously he also has some great ideas about what story he wants to tell so let’s get crackin’ shall we?

Before we start I should probably mention that to get the best understanding of what I’m trying to explain, you should either place yourself in the middle in front of two speakers or put on some decent headphones. You should also listen to clips in the highest possible resolution (480p instead of 240p) even though it doesn’t really make justice when compared to the source material.

Ricardo Villalobos - Ioda (2002)

When discussing Villalobos productions, I divide his works into two periods. There is before the Alcachofa (2003) album and there is after.

This track is from 2002 and you get the sense he is in a transistional period. The track is pretty club orientated with it’s semi stomping kickdrum and funky bassline which represents his old fashioned ways.

At this point he is quite good with stereo imaging: Some sounds move from left to right. Some are in the middle and some are placed out wide. It’s especially noticeable towards the end, when no kick drum is playing. This is one the characteristics of the new Ricardo.

I love it because of it’s funkiness and especially for it’s simple bassline played at every 4th bar.

Ricardo Villalobos - Chromosul (2005)

This track took me a while to appreciate when I first heard it.

It wasn’t until someone pointed to out to me what he was doing with his kick drums. If you turn up your home stereo you’ll hear an extremely soft and fat kick drum. Imagine throwing a rock into still water. What will you hear? That’s right - a soft round sound that goes “plump”. Trying saying it out loud.... Yeah THAT sound! That’s what his modern kick drums sounds like: Fat and round.

Also listening closely you’ll hear that his stereo imaging skills has developed since the Ioda track. So many sounds moving from side to side, back and forth.

I also like the detail level. There are so many things to pay attention to and yet it doesn’t feel overproduced.

The main reason I love this track however is the gigantic payoff that starts at 6.26. At 8.45 the second part of the payoff comes in and a this point I have a hard time containing myself whenever I hear it. This bit is just ridiculously good. For me that is one the five best payoffs in the history of electronic music.

Yeah, I said it. It’s that big.

Ricardo Villalobos & Andrew Gillings - Andruic & Japan (2007)

This track was released as a part of his fabric 36 masterpiece.

First of all I can’t remember anything at all that sounds remotely like it. Second, listening to the conversation is like enjoying a good comedy. I espcially enjoy the silly caberet style singing that starts at 5.27. It’s so bad and yet it’s so good.

Notice what goes on with Japanese drums from 9.09 and onwards. Pretty cool, right? And again loads of details in the background.

Ps. Here is the unmixed version. Sound quality is a bit worse though.

Ricardo Villalobos - Minimoonstar (2008)

Now here is a true masterpiece, if there ever was a need to use that word. It’s so beautiful and melancholy. Full of emotion and longing. Whoever said that electronic music is not real music obviously has no idea that this piece exits.

Unfortunately the quality of the youtube is not the best.

What many will miss when listening to this is what is happening in the lower frequency area. The bassline is so bubbling and dynamic. I just feel truly lucky to have heard it on a proper club soundsystem twice.

The stabs or synth or whatever you call them that starts 3.01 took me while to appreciate. The rest of the track is so lively, harmonic and then suddenly the listener is removed from their comfort zone.

I reckon I’ve heard this track 20-30 times and that’s a lot for me. Enjoy this gem.

Ricardo Villalobos & 3 Phase - 3 Züge (2010)

This has most insane subbass. It’s not big but it’s precise and very deep. It keeps you hypnotized and then suddenly the train is coming and then it’s game over.

Check out the picture of his studio monitors at 2.55. They are handmade and according the man himself they give a very accurate idea of what a track will sound like in a club (or something like that. I can’t remember how he worded it in the documentary about him).

Turn it up as loud as you like - It’ll never be noisy.

Ps. Check this out. I’m pretty sure this an unreleased Ricardo. It starts at 6.15 and carries on until 14.00. Future classic as far as I’m concerned.

Lots of space and great use of reverb. Check out 8.43. Sounds like something got into the machinery and disturbed the beats for a little bit.

You’ve probably noticed the diffrence between 240p and 480p, right? Well the difference between 480p and the originals is just as big. Go out and buy the originals if you haven’t already.

Like these selections? Check out some more good music or another secret selector selection!