Sunday, March 30, 2008

The First of Many . . .

British summer time started today, and it's been a nice day in Suffolk. Hard to believe that this was the scene outside my bedroom window on Easter Sunday.

Blogging is overrated. Not to worry. Here's a couple of reviews. There'll be more in the next week or so . .

Title: Sometimes I Cry
Artist: Mr G
Label: O Proof
Genre: Techno With Minimal Fuss

A: Sometimes I Cry
B: Sometimes I Cry (Radio Slave remix)

For his second O Proof release, Mr G enlists the remixing skills of Radio Slave. Josh Wink first, Radio Slave now, we're building up a nice head of steam here. Making great club tracks with a minimum of fuss has always been Colin McBean's trademark and he doesn't let the side down here. It's the constant building that I love about this stuff, plus the delicate atmospherics that make these sinister beasts on the dancefloor. The sampled wailing woman underpinned by a dirty throbbing bass alongside the Detroitish stabs that never quite come out of the darkness. Radio Slave's remix lacks the effortless swing of the original and does seem a bit leaden by comparison, but it works well in it's own way with a nice use of intermittent dynamics that occasionally push and pull the track to understated new levels of satisfaction. Keep it up!

Title: Smooth Sailing
Artist: Shaka
Label: Corner
Genre: House

A: Smooth Sailing (feat. Lena Fennell)
B1: Bubblebomb
B2: Smooth Sailing Dirty Funk-Tech remix (Breandan Davey)

The first thing I thought of when listening to "Smooth Sailing" was Matthew Herbert and Dani Siciliano. It's a quirky, jazz-inspired track that gently jacks along. It's a refined piece of listening but I'm struggling to decide if this is necessarily a good thing. Personally it's a little too refined for me. Good for the warm-up but a little bit too wine barish. "Bubblebomb" is more interesting. A syncopated piece of squelch-funk with some interesting sonic overtones. Similarly paced to "Smooth Sailing," this is house with a capital H. Mark Farina would like this one. Breandan Davey's "Dirty Funk Tech remix" of the title track largely dispenses with the vocal, bringing it in on a loop a couple of minutes from the end. "Dirty" is a little too strong a word for it though. "Soiled" is probably closer to the truth.

Three tracks that each subtly differ from each other, but they all feel a little too sanitized to my ears.

Weatherall at The Priory

Here's a review of Maunday Thursday's Priory with Andy Weatherall. A bit late I know, but it's been in transit.

The Priory Vs Base
The Fez, Cambridge UK

Andrew Weatherall (Two Lone Swordsmen/ROTTER'S Golf Club)
Jim Masters (Base/Hi Tek Soul)
Sam I Am, The Fish and George (The Priory)

Cambridge suffers, more than most, from it's proximity to London, and this is especially evident in it's nightlife. It's only fifty miles north of the capital, but if you compare it to Brighton, which is about the same distance away but South, then the differences become all too clear. There's a provincialism about Cambridge in spite of it's university and international student population that it's seaside cousin has long since shaken off. In fact it's maybe because of the university that things aren't more laissez faire. With this in mind, evenings like the Priory's Easter soiree featuring Andrew Weatherall as guest of honour are pretty much unmissable.

The Priory are currently three. Sam (I Am), James (The Fish) and George. They've been in existence for a good few years now and have built up their night from the proverbial party in a pub back room to hosting The Fez one Thursday a month. It's a testament to their hard work and dedication that although the night isn't a weekender, it's often packed to the rafters with a solid ensemble of regulars and reprobates for whom the third Friday of each month has become the perennial basis for swapping sick note excuses. They don't sell out on the guest front either, booking on the basis of sound musical taste rather than commercial profitability. Guests this year before Lord Sabre have been Luke Slater and Ed DMX.

Tonight's line-up is the pick of the bunch up to now though. It's the start of the Easter weekend, (no work on Good Friday), and upon entering at 10:30 it's already heaving inside. This is the situation until around an hour from the end when the crowd inevitably begins to thin out. The residents are on until AW, who takes control at around 12:15 and they set things up nicely for him, never losing the floor for a minute and building a finely constructed sonic wedding cake of a set.

AW's set was two hours stripped-down tech-house, the subtleties of which were lost on quite a few people. The problem with city centre clubs opening the night before a holiday weekend is that everyone wants to get in on the act. A sizeable proportion of the Fez's clientele were just there to extend drinking time or to get battered as quickly as possible. This doesn't apply to those dancing of course, just those wandering around like lost souls wanting it to be "a bit more bangin'." There was a groove to be jumped into and if you chose to, get lost in. I had much better things to do than trainspot, so I'm afraid I can't comment on specific tracks. Suffice to say that Andy didn't play a rockabilly set, or any Detroit electro. He was patient and kept people going, probably with one eye on Jim Masters coming on straight after. It was messy, druggy music with one foot firmly in an illegal warehouse rave. In many ways it felt a little too dirty for the Fez. Maybe that was the problem. . .

Jim Masters and the Priory DJs played out the final hour after AW stepped down. Their more uptempo and emphatic sets being met with relief by a large proportion of the crowd. This was what the hoi polloi had really come to hear: the music was more assertive and less subdued. Those who stuck around until the end said that the residents played the best music of the night with Jim Masters coming in a close second. Andy Weatherall's set was dismissed as "pretentious" by some and "boring" by others. Who was it who said "opinions are like arseholes . . ."? In any case, the bigger picture has to be taken into account here. The velocity was there to be increased and that was part of the plan. Instant gratification wasn't and it was to the benefit of everyone, whether they realised it or not, that this was the case. The night was an unqualified success in all respects except for the fundamental requirements of an efficient bar and cloakroom. These complaints may seem trite, but when the huddle around the bar is three or four deep all night because of a "staff shortage" and you've got a cloakroom populated by a human sloth, no amount of good music can placate you in your time of need. Let's end on a high though. Hats off to the Priory for improving on past line-ups and for bringing the noise back to Cambridge city centre.

Thanks to Caz Blink for the photos.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Machines Playlist & Competition Question: 22/3/08

Tonight's Playlist on a plate:

Squares - Sten (Smallville)
Doctor of Romance - Seth Troxler & Patrick Russell (Circus Company)
Just So U Know (2000 and 1 remix) - D'julz (Ovum)
Orbitalife - Johnny D (Oslo)
The Resident (vinyl edit) - Vincenzo (Dessous)
Caracas Soul - Kadebostan (Freude-am-Tanzen)
Squally Showers (Polder remix) - Leif (Fear of Flying)
Lunk Lunk - Carsten Franke (Ostwind)
Black Gold (Samuel L Sessions remix) - Itamar Sagi (Be As One)

Paul Woolford Mix Live at Womb Tokyo 15/3/08

Download here.

Here is the competition question. I've got two copies of the latest Fabric mix by Robert Hood to give away.

On what label was Robert Hood's classic "Minimal Nation" released?

Answers to with full contact details please. Mark entries "Hood Comp." The competition will be open until the 5/4 show. Good luck.

Tonight's Extravaganza

It's Easter, and a fertile time for all things four to the floor. I'll be featuring a guest mix by Paul Woolford (20/20 Vision, Back to Basics) aka Bobby Peru, as well as new music on Oslo by Johnny D, Sten, Seth Troxler & Patrick Russell and Shaka amongst others. I've also got two copies of Fabric's latest mix featuring Robert Hood at the controls. It's competition time again.

Link at the side of the page. 105 FM in Cambridge, globally on the web.

7-9PM GMT.

Andy Weatherall rocked it two nights ago here in Cam. There should be a review on RA from me sometime within the next few days. I'll also be broadcasting the interview I did with him on the 5/4 show, as well as making it available for download straight after.

Keep it locked.

Lady Luck EP - Tom Dazing (Heimatmelodie)

Here's a review of the latest offering on Andre Crom's Heimatmelodie imprint.

Title: Lady Luck EP
Artist: Tom Dazing
Label: Heimatmelodie
Cat Number: 007
Genre: Stripped -Down Funk

A1: Lady Luck
A2: Pun Intended
B1: Visually Hungry
B2: Visually Hungry (Arnaud le Texier remix)

Characterised by clicks, glitches and a weighty insistence, Tom Dazing's music speaks to the inner fugitive in all of us. I don't know if it's because I'm watching a scene from "The Bourne Supremacy" while listening to this or not but it's good car chase music this. There's a whiff of paranoia in the grooves that sits well on the music's dark side.

'Lady Luck' has a lot going for it and has a strident air about it but for my money hits the spot best when it crawls like a sinister disease underneath the beats using a cold-blooded analogue synth line to convey a lingering paranoia. Where 'Lady Luck' marches, 'Pun Intended' bounces and is a more contracted piece of work. It's peaks are characterised by flanged bleeps that behave themselves for the majority of then track but still sound like a barrel organ on crack. 'Visually Hungry' has a similar feel to 'Pun . . .' and very much feels like it's brother from a parallel world. The pitch is lower and more ratcheted and more delibrate. Arnaud le Texier's remix is slightly muffled in feel, and uses a squelchy sound from the original as it's main motif.

This EP's sporadic use of background noise that creates a claustrophobic feel between the grooves. It'll sound great on the right system, but it's subtleties could so easily be lost.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tomorrow in Cambridge . . .

Lord Sabre himself, Andrew Weatherall will be gracing the decks at The Priory's monthly bash at the Fez. Need I say more? It's Good Friday the day after so come on down.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Stuff of Life

Here it is . .

My Beat (Disco Circus Mix) - Blaze
Supernatural (B.H.Q. Club Mix) - Firefly (Slip and Slide)

Two of Derrick's finest, both on Slip n' Slide, which perfectly encapsulate his deft use of vocals along with his pounding drums and off-kilter electronics. If you stay still to these you're dead.

Dive into You (Vocal Mix) - Hefner vs Cosmos (Inertia)

Me old mucker Kevin Harding came up with this when we were Wednesday night Gold Bar residents. A perfect slice of dubby deep house where trance meets the groove. Tom Middleton on hand to add a bit of polish.

God Made Me Funky (Original Mix) - MD Express (Open)

You all know this one. Currently seeping into sets far and wide. A classic.

Magic Trick - DJ X-Ray (Kumba)

A Roy Davis Jnr joint and one of four tracks from the last release on Kumba. Great piece of workaholic structurally building house.

New York State of Mind - Jamz Nylon & Jahkey B (Nylon Recordings)

Acid b-lines with monotone spoken word delivery can't be beat.

Passages -Tony Watson (Ibadan)

Hypnotic perfection from Ibadan. One of the best single-side releases I've ever come across and yes, that includes all of Moodymann's efforts.

Go See Ya - Party Crashers (Acacia)

A secret weapon tucked away on an obscure four-tracker on Kelli Hand's Acacia label. Another spoken word, as seems to be the theme this weekend. Arguably the best of the lot. Insistent driving wormhole business. Play this one out and reap the benefits.

Not so many photos to adown my posts this weekend. Curse you Discogs!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Publish and be Damned!

I recently wrote an incoherent rant for Nitzan Hermon's (Fine Art Recordings) blog "Save Vinyl" on "The Recording Industry." You can read it here.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Back with a few more. Domestic matters have been all-enveloping lately and time hasn't been in plentiful supply. I've got loads of good stuff waiting in the wings to be posted, but here's a few in the meantime to keep interest levels fertile.

As ever, click on track titles to download.

Secrets - 16B (Alola):

Great slice of deep house and the record that put Omid 16B (what's wrong with his real surname. Ah, I know, it's foreign and a little bit difficult for us anglo-saxon types to curle our tongues around) on the map. He's well and truly slipped off the radar since though.

Let it Roll - Doug Lazy (Atlantic):

I remember walking into a hangar at Biggin Hill airfield in late spring 1989 and hearing this blasting out of the speakers, coupled with loads of loved up cockneys telling me how much they "loved John Barnes" and "scousers" it was an unforgettable night.

I Remember Dance - Chuggles (Prescription Underground):

Best piece of work Ralph Lawson's ever been involved with in my humble opinion.

Fantasy (Klubhead mix) - Blaze presents Cassioware feat. Sajeda (Playhouse):

You can't teach these guys anything. Class.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Machines Playlist: 8/3/08

Tonight's show went very well. Here's what was played:

Liberate - TR One (Nice ad Nasty)
Psychotic Photosynthesis - Omar S (FXHE Music)
Time Zero (Paul Rich remix) - Shonky (Freak n' Chic)
Foly - DOP (Milnor Modern)
Almost Famous - Sebrok (Paso)
Motions (Sunrise dub) - Patrice Scott (Sistrum)
Sometimes I Cry - Mr G (O Proof)
All I Can Say (Davide Squillace remix) - Mark Henning (white)
It Ain't Music - Vera & Federico Molinari (Love Letters from Oslo)
Pong - Kerri Chandler (Deeply Rooted House)
Ate You - Hauke Freer (Morris Audio Citysport Edition)
Deutscher Girl 7 - Le Jockey (white)
Hold Me - Oracy (Mojuba)
I'm Getting Lost in my Brain (Detroit Grand Pubas remix) - Alexander Robotnick (Hot Elephant)
We Said Nothing - Matthew Styles (Diamonds & Pearls)
Nerd Soul - Massi DL & Expansul (Soma)
Southbound - My My (Ostgut Ton)
West Side Horn - Losoul feat. This Time (Playhouse)

Really loving Patrice Scott's stuff at the moment and I don't care what anyone says. Music keeps on getting better and better.
On the show tonight, as always loads of new stuff to pay to you. A cursory glance at the record box throws up TR One on Nice and Nasty records from Dublin, DOP on Milnor Modern, Federico Molinari on Love Letters From Oslo, new Shonky remixes on Freak n' Chic and local talent in the shape of Le Jockey and Mark Henning.

The links are on the right.

Keep it locked. Guest mix from Paul Woolford on the next show.

Read my RA review of Jaxson's "Shit Happenz"(Hypercolour) here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Urban Promise - TR One (NiceandNasty)

Here's a review of a new TR One release on Dublin's NiceandNasty records. I unwittingly submitted it to Resident Advisor not knowing that they don't publish reviews of digital-only releases.

Title: Urban Promise EP
Artist: TR One
Label: Nice and Nasty
Cat Number: NANO 20
Genre: Techno

Mystery Train (instrumental)
Detroit after Dark

Nice and Nasty hails from Dublin, a city not necessarily known for it's techno proclivities. However, with acts such as TR One making themselves heard, and other labels such as FVF, Leopold Bloom's stomping ground at least has the potential to make it's mark. Like the UK, which in spite of having it's fair share of great artists has never really provided a caring home for techno, Ireland, and Dublin in particular, will always produce artists and labels of worth but aside from a few outposts of burning enthusiasm the genre will be criminally under patronised.

The Urban Promise EP is a sophisticated piece of work, from the stoned beats of 'Mystery Train (instrumental)' whose lazy, hazy lo-fi ambience recalls Moodymann's soundscapes to 'Cancri' which uses a wormhole of an acid synth line to burrow deep in your brain, this is a varied and atmospheric release that is grand in scope and evokes a multitude of influences, each one slightly more subtle than the previous. If I say that 'Liberate' makes me feel like I'm strolling through a fantasy landscape with a citadel around each corner, each one more impressive than the former, then you'll have to take my word for it. 'Detroit after Dark' is a rumbling sinister affair, and my least favourite track on offer. Easy listening it isn't, but it contrasts nicely with 'Mystery Train . . .' and provides an unpredictable finish to a well-balanced EP.

A label that's been around for a while but now seems to be gaining a head of steam, the future's looking good for Nice and Nasty and TR One.