Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Old Records: Fragments Of A Debate

Much is currently being made of the relevance of digging for old stuff. This is not to the detriment of the new, rather an act of both rediscovery and research. Today Resident Advisor published a piece on the Berlin-based collective Slow Life, whose modus operandi seems to be one of unhurried evolution. Their oldest collaborators come from Italy, the birthplace of the slow food movement. Significant connection or tenuous link? I’ve yet to read the interview and look forward to doing so, but I have the feeling that the rediscovery of old sounds while relevant to the collective is nothing more than them wanting to do things on their own terms and nothing more.

If music is good it deserves to be heard and shouldn’t be considered as finite. The Slow Life crew seem to be a little bit remote from current trends. This has served them well as far as house and techno is concerned, because although the genres are very malleable, they still work within a very defined structure, which apart from production techniques and the accompanying technology, really hasn’t evolved at the same pace as the composite artistic imagination. The dawn of rave all the way through to the mid-nineties is still viewed as the most fertile period for house and techno by many, but have their been any major developments twenty years on?

There is a polarization of conservative thought on the one hand almost abstract on the other, and a mass of those for whom anything goes holding sway in the middle. And it’s in the centre ground which is by far the most interesting place to be as far as being a DJ is concerned. Others that have been labelled as diggers recently include the likes of Nicolas Lutz, Voigtmann, Binh and Andrew James Gustav. It’s interesting to listen to their sets, all of which are very much the sum of their parts. If that sounds negative it isn’t meant to, it’s just that the music they draw on makes listening a very linear experience. Now I like a groove as much as anyone, but I’d be lying if I said the most interesting mixes I’ve heard are simply a consequence of keeping it locked in the same airspace throughout. Very little stands out for me, but I have the impression that this is the overwhelming objective. To play clandestine music which, once revived goes straight back to the realms of obscurity having unleashed its essence on the unsuspecting. The exact opposite of the northern soul approach, which was to dish up the obscure and flaunt it.

I suppose the only thing left to mention is that most, if not all of these selectors have a strong attachment to vinyl. To the outsider this may feel like they consciously wear their affinity as a badge of honour, inasmuch as the eschewing of anything remotely digital in format reinforces their standing. It doesn’t feel in any way contrived though, because I’ve yet to come across an article or interview in which there is any negativity to CDs or laptops. The irritating vinyl v digital debate never raises its head, which is nice as it could so easily be revived every interview. Not just with these guys, but a load of others too. It’s good that we’ve moved on.


Pandora's Jukebox


Monday, January 25, 2016

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Zadig Interview

Here's a link to a chat I had with Zadig just before Crimbo.

These are three of his most recent mixes. The most recent one on his Soundcloud page is incorporated into the Ibiza Voice page.


 The above are the five pieces of music I asked him to name as major influences. They are more than the sum of their parts, and I thought it would be good to embed the whole of the Led Zep film, rather than just the OST.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Day Job

It’s all about priorities I suppose, so I aim to make this year a decisive one for myself. I’m well aware research has been done which proves that talking about one’s objectives makes them much less likely to happen, so I intend to keep my ambition silent, and start the ball rolling now.

Flashback to just before Christmas and one of Detroit’s most out-there voices, Terrence Dixon, waffling on about the needto “keep it real” by being devoted to your art and craft 100%; eschewing the need to work in order to support yourself, eat, drink have a roof over your head and do the same for your family, that’s if you’ve been unfocussed enough to have one, I suppose. I’d like to think that Dixon’s words didn’t come out quite as he intended them to, so I’ll try and give him the benefit of the doubt. However, he does have a history of not engaging his brain before he posts on social media. This hasn’t stopped him from releasing some of the best, most complex techno of the last few years though, so keep on with that Terrence, and stop announcing your retirement. You’ve had more comebacks than Status Quo.

If there’s one person who feels trapped in a vortex of gainful employment butting its head against unrequited artistic potential it’s myself. Blogging for around ten years now, writing reviews and interviews for other websites since 2007, but giving over the majority of my time to a job which doesn’t recognize experience as an asset and is part of a fly-by-the-seat-of-you-pants industry which is incredibly self-perpetuating, I really see this year as one in which I need to do something. I’ve been DJing for twenty years, since 2004 on community radio. This will be coming to an end this Saturday, as the show I have been helming with Harry Sword has fallen victim to the creeping gentrification of the local airwaves. We don’t know how many people listen to our show, which goes out once a month, but I do know that the fact that we broadcast electronic music has seen it lumped lazily into a category which can’t tell the difference between bland, formulaic Beatport-inspired fodder and something far more relevant.

I shouldn’t be too surprised though. I remember a local Cambridge DJ, one who doesn’t live there any more, being dismissive of my show when I broadcast for 209 Radio as one which just played minimal. This blog was originally set up to accompany it, but has flopped around somewhat since and evolved into a series of links to other things. It’s tempting to wind it up now, as the radio is coming to an end, even if there was a two –and-a-half year hiatus, but there’s life in the old dog yet. The most important use for it is to give me some hope for the future by me using it to document my thoughts in music and also to have a record of  those thought and a link with the past.

It could be said to be one-dimensional, inasmuch as there is a specific ficus on the music I buy and listen to, but it’s also there to show that I’ve never grown out of this and I regard any notion that I should as patronizing. DJ culture has always fascinated me, and I suppose there are some obvious reasons for this. One of my greatest regrets is that I’ve never learnt to play an instrument. Ergo, I don’t want my youngest son to ditch the piano he’s been learning for the past year or so. Another side to this though is that I’m not even sure I possess the concentration necessary to play anything, but I’ve always been in love with playing records, and have seen its infinite variety as much more interesting and entertaining than playing an instrument anyway. All slightly contradictory I know, and I’m not knocking musicians here for being mundane, indeed, the hours spent practicing and rehearsing to reach perfection are admirable, but probably not for me.

So, how to climb out of this wormhole of inhibition I’ve built for myself over the years? I need to find a few different angles and get my finger out of my arse. I’ve always had ideas but rarely acted on them. That will hopefully change this year (note use of “hopefully”; must be more assertive).

New Year's Round Up

The pick of what has appeared on my Soundcloud feed recently.

Expressing Dark Matter EP -Fred P (Rex Club Music)

Title: Expressing Dark Matter EP
Artist: Fred P
Label: Rex Club Music
Cat Number: RCM002
Genre: Deep House

01: Wave Patterns
02: Continuous Sensations
03: Unbroken Circle

Fred P continues to do what he does best on this EP. ‘Wave Patterns’ is a ten-and-a-half minute minimal, percussive, cosmic soundscape which could easily prove to be the foundation track for all deep, driving, thinking people’s stellar sets from now on. ‘Continuous Sensations’ involves flanged percussion enveloped by filigrees of fragility, while ‘Unbroken Circle’ is a low-end tracky composition which sounds like an arctic wind. All in all, three very useful deep DJ tools from Mr P, which will take likeminded music to another level.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Caja Negra EP - Jasss (Anunnaki Cartel)

Title: Caja Negra EP
Artist: Jasss
Label: Anunnaki Cartel
Cat Number: AC008
Genre: Deep House

A1: In Fact It’s Impossible
A2: Backed Up With Facts
B1: Lift
B2: Restorative Inversion

Jasss is a new name to me, but I doubt he’ll remain in the shadows for too long if this EP is anything to go by. What we have here are four taut sonic bangers, the type that would enhance any dark room with a corner strobe throwing out light grenades. The two tracks on the A side are cut from more delicate cloth from those on the B, where things get a bit more chaotic and heavy. All four have an appealing rawness about them though, making interesting use of the 303. Indeed, the acid squelch has rarely sounded so intriguing, backed as it is throughout with echo, handclaps and varying degrees of bass. I’m more of a fan of the lighter pair myself, but that could easily change depending on the context. Great stuff!