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The Return of Vanguard Sound! “Masquerade EP” VS012

Back to The Front!!!!

After a three year hiatus Vanguard Sound! returns to the act of releasing records with Amir Alexander’s
“The Masquerade EP”.
A four track EP with a cut for every dance-floor scenario.
Soulful, bluesy House. The deepest of Deep House. Epic late late night Micro-House (Berlin Minimal). And Classic “Vanguard Sound!” Modern “Jacking” Chicago House.

“The Masquerade!” (Feat. Tim Collins)

My first official attempt at the “Soulful House” sub-genre. This track is based on the chord changes of George Benson’s “This Masquerade”.
Tim and I had discussed a possible collaboration for years. Then one day suddenly (much like all the inspiration for my creative pursuits come), inspiration struck.
“Why not do a remake of a classic by a guitar virtuoso?” And like that, I set about making a track based on the changes of Big Brother George’s OG.

Upon the completion of a basic rough mix, I linked it to Tim. When he found the time, he traveled to a very nice pro studio to have them engineer and record an improv session.
Tim did a single take of improvised riffs . Jamming to the track I sent him. Then sent me back the results.
After which I set about editing down his seven minute jam; taking the sections I felt best fit my overall vision.
The results of which are what can now be heard on the final cut, and official release.

In keeping with the original; a Jazz improvised number, I decided to “take a solo” myself.
In order to compliment the “organic” sound of Tim’s steel string acoustic guitar, I chose the legendary Hammond B-3 organ to perform my solo with. And with the magic of midi, alongside my production skills. I was able to get the sounds inside my head out of it. As midi allows one to record a performance a bit slower then bring it up to speed. It also allows for the correction of missed notes, and rhythmic hiccups. Thus giving the impression that I am a much better keyboardist that I currently am (full disclosure).
Although, I do indeed plan to build upon my rudimentary piano playing skills by taking lessons online from Tim (who is a professional piano and guitar teacher) as soon as my meager survival budget allows me the funds to do so.

Never am I content to just cruise and plateau with regard to my artistry in any of it’s manifestations; this particular track sees me “setting the bar higher” and stepping outside of my comfort zone to advance my skill-set as a musician, producer, writer, and arranger, etc.
I also seek to become a better keyboardist and better performer as well.

“Freaks of The Deep!”

A track that single-handedly got me booked to open Circo Loco’s ADE party in October 2017.
Antonio loved it so much he asked me to send him an mp3 to listen to, and then booked me for their ADE party after I premiered it that summer in the main room to stunning effect.

I sat on this track and kept it as an exclusive secret weapon for years until I could find the perfect label to release it on.
Since I am a “slept on” (grossly underrated in the opinions of the many die hard supporters who’ve told me this) artist already, it made sense to me at the time to seek to release this track on a label with a profile as large a possible.
Try as I might, this did not happen. Despite every label I submitted it to absolutely loving it.

After the third ‘thanks but no thanks” from some highly esteemed label heads, the idea began to brew in the back of my mind that I would re-launch Vanguard Sound! with it. And this is exactly what I’ve done.

Based upon the initial sales of what amounts to a “free” EP, this track will also be slept on. But at least it’s existence, is known and the track is undeniably “thorough” regardless as to whether it is ignored by the scene at large or not.
To quote David Byrne of The Talking Heads….. “Same as it ever was”.
I am quite pleased with my un-celebrated “cult hero” status within the deepest and truest trenches of the international underground dance music culture, and or scene.

Freaks of The Deep World Premier at Circo Loco Monday
5 Jun 2017

“Blessed Are The Meek!” (Amir’s Zero Dark Thirty Epic) 

The track that is now a certified modern classic and Panorama Bar anthem is now reiterated in epic fashion.
Written during the same sessions at the end of 2019 that spawned the two tracks that will be on my next vinyl release on Chiwax. (A “Blessed Are The Meek” remix EP. More on that in a later post).
When I made this last, and definitive end all be all version; I was inspired by my track Catacombs 2 from my “Wisdom” EP. Which is my most recent vinyl release.
(Out and for sale now on Thomas Melchior’s My king is light label).

Deep, dark, heady, late-night, minimalist Micro-House is the aesthetic. Much in the spirit of the Berlin school of all things Micro and Minimal.
Once again wishing to grow as an artist and step outside of (and or expand) my comfort zone; I set about creating a hypnotic seventeen minute “epic” mental, emotional, and physical workout aimed squarely at the late, late night/early morning after hours dance-floor.

“Blessed Are The Meek!” has such an interesting, and seemingly unending story. And this track (at least for now) is the final chapter in what is now it’s fourth summer of dance-floor relevance.
I feel truly “blessed” to have been chosen to be the “vessel” by which this certified modern classic was brought into the world.

“Dick Pilates!”

Built around an insanely funny vocal by a woman who prefers a small penis she can dominate, versus being “subdued” by a large one; the final track of the EP is already a “cult classic” among the truest of true fans of Vanguard Sound!
Completed five years ago, and only appearing on a single podcast of some of my unreleased and exclusive tracks; Dick Pilates was requested several times during my “Love and Fear” album tour that took me all over Australia, on to Ibiza, and then to New York and Washington DC back in the summer of 2015.

Seemingly lost to the “memory hole” until now. This track was also a super exclusive “secret weapon” for years.
Now with a full re-engineering and mix-down (while keeping the OG “original” Vanguard Sound! aesthetic the heads have come to know and love), D.P. is now available for all who would like to posses it. For the first time ever. Exclusively on my Band-Camp page. As are the other three tracks on the EP.
In fact, they shall remain exclusively available only on the Vanguard Sound! Band-Camp page.

To be completely shunned and ignored because one’s work destroys “the bell curve” and challenges the “status quo” by definition is the very essence of what true underground is. Those who know, know well. Those who do not know, know not due to the lack of “press coverage”. And NOT due to a lack of creativity, and or quality.

100% pure independent true “Underground” House and Techno. With zero support and or exposure from the “mainstream” dance music media outlets.
As being called underground, and functioning as the underground are two entirely different things.

A few words about being content with being ignored and my truly underground underground status within the international scene……
“Unobtanium Arts!”

Yes…. I too am human, and bleed red blood like everyone else. I actually do have feelings. I simply work diligently to control them. Versus them controlling me. My “hard as nails” stoic persona is no act. Ask anyone who really knows me.
No!
It is a basic survival necessity. Being a true “artist”, versus being a “talented performer” in this “slippery”, shark tank music industry is a loveless, thankless life. Especially when you are an artist who is both loved AND (truly) hated for the exact same things.

“Embodying Excellence”

Truth be told, I have in the past completed various projects and felt quite “proud” of my accomplishments. (Though a few years ago, I “canceled” (LOL!) pride in my life. Now I only seek to be “satisfied” with my work.)

Being a “true student” of this art-form, I am quite fortunate to be able to “gauge” my work with ice cold objectivity. Meaning, it doesn’t matter if I made it. I look at the best who ever did it, and then seek to equal, or hopefully supersede the level/quality of their work in order to truly “advance” the art-form(s), and “enrich” the culture (as should be done if a form is to truly advance), but I think that this mentality is likely rare.
Who knows???

In the past, I felt quite slighted. In that I knew for a fact that my work was “good work” yet my earnings were meager at best. I have been, and still am literally “shunned” by the press. If not completely ignored.
Before I “mastered” my emotions, this hurt me greatly.

These days it makes me laugh. Knowing what a joke the whole “name game” popularity contest that is the nucleus of who gets “shine”, and who gets “shade” from the press.
I now overstand that I simply DO NOT fit the narrative. Not in my musical home-town of Chicago. Nor within the international “community”. There simply is not box shaped like me. Thus I cannot be easily put into one.
THIS is the life of a “truly gifted artist”; versus the life of a “talented performer”.

Your life will not be easy. You will be hungry. Poverty will be the rule and NOT the exception……….
YET!
You will have a very tiny core of beloved people (some say fans of your work) who actually recognize your contributions to the art-form that they love so much.
As there is something that you did/will do that truly touches/touched their very hearts and souls.
The exact same way some of my most cherished artists touched mine.

And THIS is why you must do it. THIS and this alone. Sacrificing your life and the potential to have a a very lucrative “normal job”. Wasting your talents and intellectual gifts for a “pipe dream”, as it were.
So back to the press and being objective about one’s work…..

If one IS of the proclivity to be their worst critic; along with being gifted skills and abilities of the highest order. They must then work as though their very lives depended upon doing so.
For free.
And with no recognition. Fully aware that the closer they come to fulfilling their potential, the wider the gulf of perception, and the more “irregular” the box to put one in must be.
The gift (once again), is the curse.
These days I am quite content at setting an unbelievably high bar for myself, “leveling up” and then raising it. Just like “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”.

The book tells the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a seagull who is bored with daily squabbles over food. Seized by a passion for flight, he pushes himself and learns everything he can about flying. His increasing unwillingness to conform finally results in his expulsion from the flock. Now an outcast, he continues to learn, becoming increasingly pleased with his abilities while leading a peaceful and happy life.

One day Jonathan meets two gulls who take him to a “higher plane of existence” in which there is no heaven, but a better world found through perfection of knowledge. There he meets another seagull who loves to fly. He discovers that his sheer tenacity and desire to learn make him “pretty well a one-in-a-million bird.” In this new place, Jonathan befriends the wisest gull, Chiang, who takes him beyond his previous self-education, and teaches him how to move instantaneously to anywhere else in the Universe. The secret, Chiang says, is to “begin by knowing that you have already arrived.”
So what’s the point Amir?

The point is to enjoy being an artist. In the lineage of many greats who have gone before me. Unsung heroes who managed to move people. From the inside. Heart to heart. Mind to mind. And Soul to soul.
When I would get a bit down (past tense), I would often think of Fishbone. By ALL measures, the MOST under-rated band in the world. Insanely gifted. And completely un-classifiable.
Wealth, recognition from the press, and even good fortune NEVER came to them.
No! Quite the opposite.

No longer am I “waiting for the One Day”

So when I would look at my life and career, I could see clear parallels.
And THIS gave me a bit of comfort. Especially when I was not as strong in my faith.

Over a two decade period, this “once in a lifetime” band slowly fell apart. Until only two founding members were left. As being “crapped on by the industry” surely took it’s toll. However, in the years since that lowest of low points, many of the founding members have returned (and left again more than once).
Through it all Norwood Fisher and Angelo Moore have stayed true and stayed the course. For better and often for worse.
THIS is the life of a truly gifted “black artist”. Nothing more. Nothing less.

And so in closing…..

As a “truly gifted artist”, versus a very “talented performer”
I embrace the poverty life I’ve lived for the past five years. One that some of my peers fear may be their future.
But let’s hope not. As I would not wish this type of life on anyone.

It made me much stronger (along with the teachings of Christ Jesus and The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius). But for a person who is controlled by their emotions and not the other way around, this life would surely kill them.
No longer am I “waiting for the one day”
Nor must I think to myself “what would Norwood and Angelo do (or think)?”

For, I realized quite some time ago that I’ve already arrived.
And so every time I create a bit of work that has matched and or superseded the level of the artists who inspired me to do this work, I just know it, and keep it moving humbly.
A bit of praise from a true admirer means more than the wealth I shall never receive.
And the rare as “unobtainium” (LOL!) peer recognition, though greatly appreciated (never expected) is also cool. But I take it all with a grain of salt.

Either way, I seek to fly high. Then fly higher. Then higher. For me. Because I feel that I can. And for my son to prove that it can be done.
If you have been blessed with the basic foundation of “God given gifts” and a work ethic to “toil like a slave” ; all of your own volition, with no point to prove to anyone but oneself, then know…….

“The blessing is truly the curse”
THIS is MY life as an artist.

Talent hits a target most cannot hit.
Genius hits a target most cannot see.

Right then…….

Carry on Beloved. Have a “Blessed” day!

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Blessed Are The Meek!

It’s been a while since the last post.
Mad busy. So much has transpired behind the scenes since I last took the time to share my thoughts with the inter-webs.
For one, the “Blessed Are The Meek” single came out on Classic and has done quite well.
This is the track that superseded “Gutter Flex” as my #1 most popular to date.
Interesting story….
It was first released as an “Unknown Producer” white label 12″ vinyl with the instrumental on the flip side (super rare collectible. I don’t even own a copy). The idea was to do a teaser for the album that was to drop later that year. The record went on to become one of the tracks of the summer for those in the know. It’s second incarnation was on my sophomore album “Dusk Til Dawn”. Track 7. (The spiritually minded will note the numerological significance). As with most of my work, the album was/is a sleeper “future classic”. Lauded by the critics, but slept on commercially. It is what it is.
High hopes….
I felt when I first finished the track that it might be the one that would “next level” me and bring me some gig work. This did not happen. yet, I held faith. As faith is a huge part of my way of life. I had decided whether or not I received any “come up” off the track, I had completed a great work of praise and glorification of The Supreme Creator.
The third life came about because of the interest Brother Luke Solomon took in releasing it to a wider audience as a one track single.
Since then the interest in me as an artist has begun to recapitulate. As all things run in cycles.

After “the rookie phase”
Life after the introductory phase of my career is now afoot. New releases, an Australian tour, my return to Berlin (this weekend), and some exciting collaboration opportunities are a thing. So now it is two and a half years later and the track is bearing the fruit I always hoped/knew it would.
This post is a bit tardy only because I have been so busy in the studio creating new music. At this point I have another album plus several new EPs worth of material. However, I believe that my days of releasing albums are over. At least until the stock of the first two sells out completely.
At any rate,
there is much more exciting news to come so I figured that I better make this post first because this release needs a bit of recognition (by me at least), as a career landmark.
For those who are not aware of it, now you know a bit more of the back story, etc. The track is available digitally everywhere if you want to cop it.
Thank you for your time, and stay tuned.
Big thanks to everyone who helped me hit 200,000 page clicks.
I will begin to bring you fresh content on a more consistent basis from now on.
Much Respect,
A.A.

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Vlog Ep #7 – Gritty City! (edit)

Not much to talk about.
My friend Alexander here in Malmö ended up sorting me out with some new bars, and a front load stem. It took me a whole week to get sorted and riding again. Which I did today for a bit.
I got some footage and decided to try my hand at an edit of sorts. Of course it helps to be able to do more tricks than I can, but we must crawl before we walk, and walk before we run.
What I do have is my own steez/style and flow. So even if I am doing a basic trick, I try to make it look good.
The title comes from the state of my life right now. The place I live, the way I ride and film, and my overall proletariat point of view (i.e. working class/blue collar) ethic.
This one isn’t flashy, but it is the truth.
A bro and his bike expressing the joy of riding.
The music is my song “Foe Nem” Track #3 from my Drill/Trap album “Chicago Gun Times”

The lyrics can be found here “Foe Nem Lyrics”
We out here…..
Gang!
https://youtu.be/3CuepIZjlS4

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Flux Interview for my new album Dusk Til Dawn!

Amir Alexander’s Flux Interview for the new album!
Shout out Just Jack for sorting the press/promo etc.
Shout out Flux, Dan Heller, and Julia for being so gracious and accommodating.
This music industry is so weird. I get mad love from a very small pocket of clued in/influential heads, but then completely ignored by the majority
of the scene.
I guess this is what it is to be truly underground. The real heads and critics champion you, but “commercial success” eludes.
Either way, the work/discography is there.
Whether I gig and am popular, or whether I disappear into obscurity. Anyone who is really paying attention cannot help but see/hear.
Realest of the real. From Alpha to Omega. xx

An interview with Amir Alexander

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The Lands Beyond Pt. 2!


Amir Alexander Releases The Lands Beyond Part.2 EP

“We welcome to the label Chicago’s Maestro Amir Alexander with The Land’s Beyond EP
A straight to the floor 4 dance tracker.”

Cat: RS026
Artist: Amir Alexander
Released : 17 August 2017
House, Techno.

Official press release text:
With the Recent Releases stepping up in the vinyl outlets and including artists on the label roster such as Vakula, Chicago’s Vincent Floyd, Detroit’s Norm Talley, Simoncino, Losoul, Reggie Dokes, Dj Aakmael and with also their excellent digital series featuring up and coming Artists Release sustain is getting common ground for forward thinking and quality 21st century dance music.
This Time they are back on Vinyl with no one else than Chicago’s own son Amir Alexander ! who features an EP of His continuing work since the super successful ‘the lands beyond EP’
The Land’s beyond part 2 comes with 4 awesome tracks that so represent the artists signature, dark and groovy dancefloor music !
It is with great pleasure then that we share with you this great EP by one of the most interesting underground producers out there.
Laurent Garnier: ” Very cool tracks — will play!”
Orlando Voorn: ” Been bumping How you make me feel for a while..REAL proper stuff i love it will check the others as well thanks! “
Luciano: ” very very cool! thank you”
Molly: It’s always quality music from Amir Alexander !! Thanks
Buy :
https://www.decks.de/t/amir_alexander-the_lands_beyond_pt2/cag-c0
https://www.deejay.de/Amir_Alexander_The_Lands_Beyond_Pt2_RS026_Vinyl__282740
http://www.juno.co.uk/products/amir-alexander-the-lands-beyond-pt-2/658875-01/

My two cents, thoughts, comments, etc…

“The Lands Beyond” concept was inspired by my research into the “Hollow Earth” and “The Inner Earth & Realm of Aghartha”. Upon learning of the supposed “Ascended Masters” and “The Lands Beyond” I began to try to imagine what the vibes of this place might sound like. Dark, cold, dusty, mechanical, distant, and other-worldly sub-subterranean Earth. The year would have been about late 2008 or very early 2009. Just about the time my first vinyl with G. Marcell was released. “The Experience EP” (more on that in a future post).

At the time the tracks were first made my engineering skills were not equal to that of my production and compositional skills so they sat for several years on an old spare hard drive. Some of the only music left from that pre- Gutter Flex era. In 2014 when finally my time came to release a solo vinyl EP for Plan B Recordings NYC, Spider requested the track “The lands Beyond” from the original demo package I sent him and Lola. During this time I had yet to build a proper studio in Sweden, so trying to do final mix-downs in my ex-girlfriends living room in my ad-hock porta-studio was the only option. Needless to say, the conditions were less than ideal.
Regardless, I did the best I could do at the time with the resources I had available to me. The result is a crusty dusty record that has found it’s way into the collections of many eclectic DJs all around the world.
“The Lands Beyond” is for me, one of “those” records. The people’s release. Many consider it classic Amir Alexander. Lola and Spider, the consumsmate A&R people they are, most certainly did. Spider’s got an ear for that distinct “Plan B” vibe/back bone that was the bedrock of each of our distinctive sounds. I love it! Totally Plan B. Yet totally me. This is the exact record Gabbi Lopez referenced when requesting a sound pallet for a record he would like to release with me.
This came shortly after a singe track for a V/A comp he was doing for his label “Release-Sustain” was submitted and confirmed.
He had already released artists I hold in high esteem on this series. Names like Norm Talley, Reggie Dokes, Vakula, and Nick Anthony Simoncino to name a few. This had already caught my attention. So that, along with the good vibes I got from chatting with Gabbi led to the creation and release of what would become “The Lands Beyond Pt. 2”

A1 – “How You Make Me Feel” The original track was for a remix I did for a Swedish label that actually rejected it. They liked the music, but knew it would not work for their audience. At the time I was stunned, as I felt that the track was Bomb and would be well received by the heads as well as the party people. The vox are from one of my favorite altos of all times. I had them in my mpc chop folder and decided to lay them over the instrumental just to see how it sounded. The “eureka moment” was profound to say the least. I’m so glad they rejected that remix.
A2 – “Walk The Talk” One of the tracks from back in the late 00s that was made around the same time period as the original EPs material. I never released it because it was an engineering nightmare. It took 8 years for me to lean how to fix all the built in fidelity killers. While at the same time, preserving the original synth patches and arrangement, etc. It was so NOT fun, but I learned a lot as I basically had to re-create this one (as well as the next 2) completely from scratch.
I had to re-write tracks I made almost a decade ago. Every producer should try it sometime. It’s a very humbling experience.
B1- “Telepathy” A big “club” track made for the peak hour. I rarely set out to make one of those specifically, but this time I did just that. Fat bass-line. Epic break-down (LOL, or at least for me), ghostly lead synth, rolling vibes. Totally rewritten using all the same sounds. Having to chase down obscure vst’s from the early 00s and then try to recreate some patches by ear was a cool learning experience. I’m a better producer now than I was before I completed these tasks.
B2- “Bunker Buster” This one was written in late 2011. Chris and I had just sent our first Vanguard Sound! release of the be mastered and then pressed in Detroit’s Archer Record Pressing. It was one of  two tracks I made as catharsis for the loss of my dog Rufus. I had him for 13 years. I made a “sad” track, ” Komm, Süßer, Tod Komm Selge Ruh that was released on my debut album “Love And Fear – (Anunnaki Cartel) 2015. The second was a banger entitled “Bunker Buster”. I loved this track from the moment I made it, but knew that I could not release it until I could figure out how to “clean it up”. The lead, the kick and the bass-line all competed for the same frequency range.
It was the toughest to re-write.
I originally intended for it to be the A1 track. Gabbi wanted “Telepathy”. We decided on  “How You Make Me Feel” after we got back the 3rd set of masters.
We had mad delays due to the record just not sounding right the first 2 times. We will never even break even with this one but, at least we’re happy with the fidelity. Hopefully we can at least sell the existing stock.

The record is available now and the tracks are getting an excellent reception from every dance floor that gets to hear them. Heavy hitters like Laurent Garnier, Orlando Voorn, Luciano, and Molly are showing love. Perhaps you will too.

Respect,
Amir Alexander