Things We Like: Electronic Music

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Depeche Mode & Nitzer Ebb June 13, 1990 The Spectrum Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

25 years ago, my mom took my sister and me to see our synth-pop heroes Depeche Mode live on their World Violation tour.

Sure, the Mode was ascending toward its peak of success and played soon-to-be classics, tried-and-true hits and the requisite Martin Gore interlude. There were the Dave Gahan hip gyrations and the stark Anton Corbijn visuals. But it wasn’t Dave and Martin and Alan and Fletch—and their sweet, sultry electro tunes—that captured my imagination that night. No, that task was left to opener Nitzer Ebb.

Here were three guys filling up a massive arena stage with driving, monotonous beats and outsized attitude; no easy feat, especially for an opener before a typically indifferent arena crowd. Over a rhythmic din knocked out by two robotic drummers busting out their best Sprockets impressions stormed vocalist Douglas McCarthy.

Part rabid preacher, part motivational speaker, he seethed with visceral angst. Back and forth across the stage he went, chanting, grunting, and barking snippets of text. Mostly verbs. Some nouns. Muscle. Hate. That sort of thing. There was smoke, there was sweat, there were spandex shorts. But above all there was a sense of purpose. Pure emotion expressed via the most economical means: voice, beats, synth.

While DM dealt in smooth, catchy—albeit dark—electronics, this was something different. Mechanical, menacing and slightly sexy. They had a cool, German sounding name and dealt in hard-edged Soviet/Constructivist imagery. It was Depeche taken to the next level. Or maybe it was a portrait of Depeche further down on the evolutionary chart. Either way, my impressionable, seventh-grade mind was blown.

For me, this was a eureka moment, one where you realize that the gift offered up to you was exactly what you’d been looking for. Ebb was a gateway drug, setting me on a mission to explore the more aggressive side of dance music. Front 242, Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy, Ministry, and a cadre of German, Belgian, and North American bands were soon to follow.

I remember having to leave before the encore on that school night. No matter, the die was cast and the rest is history. It helped, too, that six years later I’d meet a girl who was into both bands just as much as me.

(Here’s a great example of what we saw, taken from a performance at Frankfurt’s legendary TechnoClub.)

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Free knit pattern: Dalek Hooded Baby Blanket

In the pursuit of creating a unique baby shower gift, I decided to design my own Dalek inspired hooded baby blanket. I used the super chunky Bernat Blanket yarn that knits up quickly and allowed me to create details like the the bobbles at a scale in proportion to the overall blanket. I was so pleased with the results that I wanted to share it for free!

Here are the details:
– knits from the bottom up on US 13 needles
– Uses approx. 330 yds of super chunky yarn
– Knit flat and the top edges are joined with Kitchener stitch to create the hood.
– Overall size is 31 inches tall by 28 inches (flat) wide at the bottom and 14 inches (flat) wide at the top.

Pattern includes both written and chart instructions.
– Includes links to videos explaining how to create bobbles, welts, and Kitchener stitch joins.

Free – Download the Dalek Hooded Baby Blanket Pattern!

Enjoy, you Doctor Who fans!

Knit Pattern: Twirling Twill Beret

I couldn’t fit all of my ideas into one beret, so I had to make another version that turned into this pattern – the Twirling Twill Beret. I wanted an overall subtle texture so I went with a simple slip stitch to create the twill texture on top and incorporated a different take on the twisted rib pattern at the bottom to shape the hat. The result feels very classic in a heather or solid yarn.

Special skills:
· Knitting in the round
· Increase & Decrease
· Slipped stitches
· Twisted stitches

Size: Adult – one size
Approximate finished measurements: 10-10.5 in diameter, 9 in. from the first to the last row.

Needles: US 6 (4 mm) double pointed needles – set of 5 recommended.
Circular needles may be preferred after knitting gets larger. US 5 (3.75 mm) for gathered brim section of hat.
Stitch marker and stitch counter optional

Yarn: Worsted Weight, approx 175 yds (160 m)

Instructions include full written directions and chart.

Available on Etsy for $3.50
Available on Craftsy for $3.50