Little Louie Vega in 8 tracks

Louie Vega was born in Brooklyn. A second generation Puerto Rican immigrant, he grew up in a musical household, consumed with the sounds of Latin origins. Born into a musical family, his father was a Jazz saxophonist and his uncle was the legendary “salsa king” Héctor Lavoe. Here is performing with the salsa supergroup, Fania Allstars to a packed Yankee stadium.

These latin and jazz roots played a pivotal role in Louie Vega’s formative years and still today you can hear echoes of Lavoe and senõr Vega’s Jazz influences coursing through Little Louie’s sets and particularly his music. Salsa and Latin music, unlike uncle Hector’s suit in that video has become a timeless addition in the House music lexicon, and it is especially dominant in contemporary pop music with the birth of tropical House.

Louie Vega was a precocious talent, and started DJing in clubs before even coming of age. He was given the nickname Little Louie, not because of his stature, but because of his relative age to the other DJs in the booth at that time. He was holding residencies at Studio 54, Devil’s Nest, Heartthrob, Roseland and regularly playing at the Palladium, Area, and 1018 as a teenager, and although he couldn’t legally buy a drink from the bar, he was an intoxicating selector, working at some New York’s early seminal House clubs.

Following in the footsteps of the likes of Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles in New York, Little Louie Vega represented the next generation of DJ. As the maxi single came into its own, calling in a new era for DJs who went from the booth to the studio in the succeeding years, seeking to eek out more from the music through the extended DJ cut, L:ouie Vega came into his own as a producer. He was at the cusp of this new trend and one of the first DJs to put his own spin on a popular record from DJ’s perspective in the form of the remix.

In 1986 he and Joey Gardner joined the Latin rascals in a remix of eighties synth pop band, Information Society’s “Running” and while few remember Information Society today, it laid the groundwork for Little Louie Vega’s fertile and extensive career as a producer and a name that has become synonymous with house music.

His talents didn’t go unnoticed and remixes followed for Cover Girls, Debbie Gibson and Erasure amongst others, before he was picked up by Atlantic records. Going from remixer to artist in 1991 Vega enlisted the help of none other than latin crooner Marc Anthony, to make his mark as a fully fledged artist on “When the night is over”. Infusing Latin rhythms, House beats, modern synthesisers and Anthony’s vocal, Louie Vega made a serious impression with his long player debut and its first single first single, Ride on the Rhythm.

Anthony’s scatting vocals introduces a record that ticks all the boxes in true early nineties fashion. Syncopated house beats… check… hollow bass synthesiser … check … staccato piano stabs… check … R&B vocal… check … breakdown rap… and possibly the most important addition to any seminal 90’s dance track, the saxophone solo… check.  

It was possibly the first ever crossover success for a House artist of Little Louie Vega’s kind, a DJ turned producer. Where producers like Shep Pettibone had already by that time already made their mark on the maxi single as remix artists accommodating the DJ, Louie Vega was one of the first DJs to turn super-producer through his debut LP and went from obscure underground DJ to a successful pop artist, overnight.

Where most would sever their ties with their origins, Louie Vega remained steadfast in his roots with a DJ-friendly remix package from the Masters at Work side project he and Kenny Dope created together.

Louie Vega had not only breached into popular culture with he and Marc Anthony’s LP, but had also secured he and Kenny Dope’s legacy today as two of House music’s biggest and most successful stars in the nineties, a legacy that has waned little as they continue to DJ all around the world and release records with crossover appeal.

They’ve gone by many names in the past including MAW (the abbreviation that is also the name of Louie Vega’s label), KenLou and Soul Fusion, but Masters at Work always had a kind of salient ring to it when describing their work together. Masters at Work was originally coined by Louie Vega as a pseudonym for Tod Terry, who actually recorded a few titles under the name in the 1980’s, but it was eventually rightly co-opted by Vega and Dope when they formed what everybody considers the first producer supergroup.

They released their debut LP in 1993, another quintessential nineties record that carried over the essence of the “when the night is over” remix package into the long player format and immediately established their dominance on the House music landscape, while bringing the subcultural movement into the purview of the mainstream. The first single from the LP, “I can’t get no sleep” featuring the vocals of longtime collaborator India reached number 1 on the US Billboard charts.

They continued to collaborate with India, particularly as Nuyorican Soul (the faceless DJ/producer image of nineties House at work) as they released their second LP  under that moniker, enshrining the sound of nineties House with the likes of the cover of the Loletta Holloway and Salsoul Orchestra classic, “Runnaway.” It has been as remixers where the duo have made the most substantial impact on House music throughout the nineties and well into the present with over a thousand titles to their name. They are uncanny in their ability in taking a fairly ordinary pop track or a forgotten classic and exposing it for its key appeal while redirecting the key elements towards the dance floor.

Remixing is a craft that Louie Vega has mastered both in this project and as a solo artist and he has the accolades to prove it too. Nominated for 7 Grammys in the past, he won the esteemed prize with his remix of Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly” in 2006. A song that is perfection in itself, Louie Vega treats it with awe and the necessary respect as appropriates it for the modern DJ in 2007. It reaffirms House music’s roots, originally established with Funk and Soul tracks from the likes of Mayfield, while stripping it down to its bare necessities for a modern, functional dance floor. It’s a track Vega handles with extreme care as he makes sure to accentuate those key elements like that groovy bass and Mayfield’s vocal, but he puts his own distinctive spin on it and with latin percussion and a jazzy chord progression, Vega makes it his own.

Is it better than the original? Not by a long shot, but the original is a classic, and Vega gets enough distance from it where it can live as its own track, paying homage and reverence to its ancestor.

Today, Little Louie Vega’s own music has also gone to be revered in a similar way. Countless Classic House tracks he created during the nineties have been sampled, edited and remixed and a fair few of these have even made it into the mass popular consciousness, as artists like Kanye West uses Vega tracks in his own creations.

The US rapper’s 2018 chart topping success “Fade” on Life of Pablo uses two very familiar and distinct  Vega (as Hardrive) and Barabra Tucker samples in its construction. The Vega and Barbara Tucker contribution is so prominent in this track, that it calls into question the very validity of  Kanye West as an artist… would that track ever have been so catchy if it weren’t for that distinctive bass and Tucker vocal luring the listener deep inside?

Time and again Louie Vega has made an impression on House music that crossed over to mainstream success and he’s never been one to just rehash the past or entertain tired House music tropes in his creative pursuits. He continues to make music and Djing with his distinctive flair, channeling everything from his Latin roots, Disco education and his position in the House music canon to every aspect of his career.

As he celebrated 28 years of an  illustrious career in 2016 with his last full length, Louis Vega Starring… XXVIII he remained a humble facilitator to the House music genre, paying homage to the great influencers like Funkadelic and 3 Winans Brothers, and collaborating with a fair few new artists on the scene. Here he is collaborating with his wife Anane Vega on Heaven Knows…

*Louie Vega plays Frædag this week with g-HA & Olasnkii and Olefonken.

Album of the week: Jayda G – Significant Changes

Jayda G makes the transition from DJ/producer to album artist on”Significant Changes” as she takes those essential soul, funk and disco influences and channels them in to an artistic document that stays close to the dance floor. Jayda G has been a prominent figure on the international DJ circuit,as one of the most exuberant and friendliest selectors around. Her effervescent presence in the booth and cheery disposition is infectious as she strings together Disco and House for vivacious young audiences.

Her singles and EPs for the likes of Freakout Cult and 1080p put a contemporary spin on the vast expanse of her record bag, with a penchant for delicate electronic textures and deep, visceral rhythms leaving their mark on modern House music over the last five years. In what has become something of a tradition at Ninja Tune, the UK label have snapped up the artist at the height of her popularity and sent her into the studio to record her debut LP.

Jayda G harnesses the spirit of the Paradise Garage and Larry Levan on her debut LP with a kaleidoscopic view of her open record bag. Elements of Funk, Soul, Disco and modern House sit side by side across the record as Jayda G harnesses familiar tropes to create evocative threads to their origins. Featuring the same DIY sonic aesthetic that she’s crafted across her previous records, Jayda G re-affirms her sound time and time again on this record, but offers a wider perspective of that sound as something that can live beyond the dance floor.

“Stanley’s Get Down (No parking on the DF)” is a stomper nonetheless and comes with a clarion call from Jayda’s spoken vocal channeling the voices of Disco greats to get off your phone and enjoy the dance floor. Long time Jayda G collaborator Alexa Dash contributes her powerful vocals to “Leave Room 2 Breathe” and “Sunshine in the Valley” for two soulful cuts that imbibe the spirit of Robin S and Gloria Gaynor with a modern perfunctory twist through Jayda’s streamlined productions.

Jayda G doesn’t break any new or unfamiliar ground as an artist on her debut LP, but for the first time there seems to be more of concise thread between her recent DJ sets and the music she’s making producing, consolidating a sound that seems like it will only mature as she develops it further in future releases.

Can you feel it: A Q&A with Jamie 3:26

Jamie 3:26 was there at the birth of House in Chicago and he continues to perpetuate the black, gay legacy of the city and its music in his sets and his productions today. A stalwart and at the same time a contemporary in his field, he is a prominent figure in the booth today, and spends most of his time playing to large audiences around Europe.

Jamie 3:26 is a rare entity in that legacy; a DJ that was not only able to cross that north- and south divide at home in Chicago, but also be both “Chicago famous” and “world famous” at the same time. He rose to prominence at the epicenter of the first House movement right at the gestation of the scene as a dancer, dancing at the legendary Muzic Box under the musical tutelage of Ron Hardy.

His transition from the dance floor to the booth was a measured progression, Jamie biding his time to learn from the best, by looking over their collective shoulder in the booth. Learning his craft by observing DJs like Ron Hardy and Pharris Thomas, confidence drove Jamie in crafting his unique style in the booth to become one of the limelights locally and beyond as he started playing to audiences in New York and eventually Europe.

After staking his claim in the booth, a career in production beckoned and taking his cues from the legacy of Chicago the first of his Basement Edits series hit record bags in 2008 through ParteHardy records. Seminal edits like “Hit it n Quit it” and “Testify” followed through a reserved but considered discography, harnessing Jamie 3:26’s extensive musical knowledge and channeling it to the modern dance floor.

There are remarkable parallels between what he does through his edit series and his work in the booth.T here’s an immense energy to his sets that prevails in the music as he blends elements of Soul, Funk, Gospel and modern House music through his work and his sets. A Jamie 3:26 is always an electrifying experience and before we get our own personal taste at Jaeger, we shot over some questions to the Chicago DJ to talk about his early formative years, his music, his sets and

*Jamie 3:26 plays Retro tonight with Daniel Gude

 

Hello Jamie. You’re originally from Chicago, but you’ve also lived in Amsterdam. Where do you spend most of your time today?

Hey There!!  Good to meet ya and talk w ya!! I’m born and raised on the south side of Chicago,in a neighborhood called Beverly. I lived between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Chicago for 2 years. I am now a resident of Rotterdam. This is my new home and I have been here permanently for 2 years. Reminds me so much of Chicago and the people are real.

I assume you travel to play in Chicago quite often at least. How have you seen the music scene evolve since you first left, especially considering how that legacy has been reaffirmed by this latest generation of DJs in Europe?

I only come home twice a year and I rarely play when I do visit. This last visit in March, I played for Reggie Corner’s Sunday event he does with Mike Dunn,on the south side at a spot called Renaissance. It’s the best Sunday night party on the south side. It was a packed house and I really enjoyed playing for and seeing my people.

The scene back home has a few different scenes. Chicago is segregated and it always crossed over into the party scenes and sides of towns and genres. There used to only be a few…you were either into the deep disco and underground/club music, basic house, gay and the underground scene. Some years back, in the late 90’s, it went back underground and was basically on life support, in regards to the black side of things. Frankie’s parties would be the only parties where you’d see the vets and real party people.That used to be 2 times a year. There were some other things still going, like the Prop House, but honestly a lot of those folks were late to the scene and not my kind of music or crowd. No dis to them, but being deep from the culture, I have always sought out the alternative and was on things before they became trendy.

I am proud to say now that there’s quality house music events on EVERY side of town, 7 nights a week. Damn good progress for me.

Being from Chicago, gives me a certain pedigree, that many can mimic and emulate, but I was there, so I have a unique authenticity that can’t be denied. I’m fine with that, yet I don’t carry myself as arrogant, being where I’m from…and the world seems to dig it, so I’m blessed and good with that as well!!!

House music in Europe is quite different from anything in the USA, and in many respects it’s thrived here in a way it never did back in the US. Why do you think it’s so much more popular on this side of the Atlantic, having experienced it on both sides?

I guess part of it would be that it’s still played on the radio, in cafes, shops, restaurants alongside popular music and radio and the mix shows is what helped popularise the music in the States, as well as it being added to stations playlist.  Now that American radio is controlled by corporates, they all play the same playlist across the markets. Where it used to be certain sounds and songs were played in certain regions, it’s now a generic playlist. Club culture and festival culture also plays a part because it’s been passed down to younger generations, versus in Chicago where house music basically stops under the age of 35. With the addition of certain blogs and websites dedicated to dance music, when they do write-ups and articles on dance music legends and provide links, they can go to places like You Tube and Spotify and have an entire genres history at their fingertips.

Chicago (and probably the larger midwest) is where House music was born and you were there as a teenager growing up in the middle of it. It’s hallowed ground, but as always a lot has been assumed about the origins of the scene through the media. How significant was House music at that time in Chicago and how aware were you as a dancer on the floor about this new music?

House culture spawned from black gay underground culture, so if you were into House music at one time it was considered gay music. So you dealt with being outcast, or thought or considered gay, and if you weren’t because a lot of us who were deep into the culture, ours wasn’t the music being played on the radio.  It came from the black gay underground DJ’s who then began performing for high school kids at school dances. Prior to that it was the hot mix style of DJing like the Hot Mix 5 with tricks and scratches. Those DJ’s brought from the underground the style of presenting music, ‘playing’ and EQ manipulation. I equate the House phemonomen and how it spread throughout the city, from the streets to the basement parties to the school parties to the teen clubs to the underground. The same way you could trace the roots of hip hop music in New York. These House parties helped keep a lot of kids off the streets during a very turbulent time with the gang culture. There was a point where you could not go anywhere and not hear any House music. You could hear it everywhere coming from people’s cars, boom boxes, people putting speakers in their windows playing mixes recorded from the radio, to local neighbourhood DJ’s doing the same.

From what I understand, from other interviews I’ve done with other Chicago luminaries, is that House was more of an attitude/lifestyle than a genre music. Is that something you experienced growing up in the scene?

Yes. There was a style, a look, a fashion, lingo, all associated with House. You could look at someone by the way they dressed or wore their hair, you could tell they were House or what you call Deep. I was deep in the culture because that was the ‘live’ crowd. Like people today say lit. You just had to be a part of it.  Even though most of us who were deep into the culture, were outcast, so to speak, because we looked and dressed as people associated with being gay.

When you started DJing it was from your parents record collection. Was there a lot of House music already making its way into DJ sets at that time, or was it still more focussed on elements of Soul, Disco and Funk in the places you were going out to dance?

Those were the original elements of House. What we called House was from all of those genres, before the electronic form of House music came about.  House is Disco’s stepchild.

What were some of your favourite haunts (as a dancer) in Chicago at that time?

Longwood Academy, the Muzic Box / Powerhouse, the Gentle Persuasion, the Hummingbird.  Medusa’s, Hyde Park Racquetball Club and the Bismarck.


I believe you eventually swapped one side of the club for another when you went from dancing to become a DJ. What inspired you to want to become a DJ?

I grew up around a few DJ’s in my family, but they didn’t necessarily mix.  Seeing DJ’s in my neighbourhood throw down at local basement parties made me want to mix. I’m a self-taught DJ learning from various radio station mix shows and observing DJ’s.

From what I’ve read in interviews is that it took you some time, but you basically learnt your craft from looking over the shoulders of working DJs, especially Ron Hardy. In another interview I’ve read you said that there wasn’t particularly a lot of support in Chicago for House music at the time. How supportive were people like Hardy on new blood like yourself  looking over their shoulder?

It wasn’t like the times that I was hanging in the booth at the Box / Powerhouse, that I was even being mentored. They didn’t know I was a DJ. But I watched other DJ’s as well, including Andre Hatchett, Mike WIlliams, Pharris Thomas and anybody I could get close to, to watch them while they played.  No-one really mentored me back then. But some of these same DJ’s I mentioned, my crew, when we were doing promotions, ended up hiring for some of our events. And at times, I would open for them.

Ron’s ParteHardy records brought out your first release (the only non-Hardy release on that label) and Theo Parrish played a hand in bringing it to the masses by playing it a lot in his sets at the time. Is this level of support a common occurrence in the Chicago DJ community today and what is the initiation process like to ascend to the level you’re at now?

ParteHardy records is run by Ron’s nephew Bill, who is a good friend. So as well, I owe a lot to him and Theo for pushing me and believing in me. It’s always been very competitive in Chicago period. You have DJ’s who will support DJ’s and then you have DJ’s who will only support who they get down with. Honestly, it’s just human nature. It’s not something that’s mainly a Chicago thing. For the most part, there’s a lot of us who have been doing our best to break the stereotype concerning Chicago DJ and music culture. I do my best to represent my city in a positive light and to support talent in my city. I also don’t play politics with my music. So sometimes that has strained my relationship, because I don’t play what I don’t feel whether my best friend made it or a stranger made it. I gotta feel it.

You were DJing for the longest time in and around Chicago before breaking through as a DJ  and getting gigs further afield. What was the major turning point in your career as a DJ?

I would have to say being an active member of DeepHousepage.com. That message board had a community that was global and it made me venture out of Chicago. That first trip to New York city in 2000 was life changing and humbling. It showed me that this was much more bigger than Chicago. My first international DJ gigs came via that website.

For a while you had your own mobile Disco service. How did you have to adapt your mixing style and DJ sets when you started getting booked on the merit of your releases?

I had to learn to give these people what they heard of me and not cater and me catering, thinking that I had to play a certain way because I was in Europe, ended up being not a good gig. I learnt fast.

I’ve noticed in the comments on your Boiler Room set that the opinion was very divided on your use of the filter. How much emphasis do you put on technique and mixing style and how did you arrive at the way you mix today?

That event had over 700 people losing their minds on a sick sound system. I could care less what some lames in the comments section have to say, because those people partied their asses off and that’s all that matters. I have different styles of playing and mixing. It depends on what atmosphere I create. I can do short quick mixes, long blends or crazy EQ work.  Or just clean presentation. It all depends on my mood. I utilise EQ work to create drama within the music.

Is it still a learning process for a DJ with so much experience?

A DJ is forever a student.  No-one knows all of the jams and there’s tons of undiscovered music out here.  I’m still a fan of this music. And forever a student.

Your sets are incredibly dynamic and it takes me back to that idea of House as an attitude rather than a genre or a style of music as your sets very rarely stick to modern 4-4 House tracks. What is your perception of the term House today and what are your thoughts on  the very formulaic norm of the genre in recent times?

It seems that some DJ’s can only stick to one lane of music. Hearing one same groove all night gets boring. Mix it up. That’s why we call it mixing.

What do you look for in a record to make it into a Jamie 3:26 set?

It has to have a groove.  It also has to make me dance.  If it doesn’t make me shake my ass, I won’t play it.

I hear a lot of edits in your sets, including your own productions. What makes an edit work in the context of a DJ set in your opinion?

Energy. That’s it.

When it comes to your own edits, what do you look for in a track in the first place to edit it and how do you usually put your own mark on it?

Once again it’s about energy.  If a song has a high part and a then a big section full of fluff, I cut out the fluff and go straight for the meat and bones.

I only have one more question Jamie and here comes the plug. You’re playing at our weekly concept called RETRO and as you might have guessed it is about highlighting the legacy and the imprint of House on music today. How would you sum that up with what you know and is there an element of the origins of the genre that you’d like to get back to?

I do my best to keep the true underground culture of House music alive. That was taught to me by my elders in the game. This shit is real to me because it’s my life. It shaped me, molded me and beat me down, in a good way. I would like to bring back the element of people dancing together and not with their cell phones facing the DJ or them with their cell phones on the dance floor.  I just want people to feel the true freedom of being lost in music without a care in the world.

 

Lost in Lindos with Tarjei Nygård

Beguiling melodies bouncing through octaves in jolly leaps, play between the deep, rolling waves of bass as Tarjei Nygård’s latest EP, “Lost in Lindos” completes the first bars of “Bleausa.” Elegant keys stroking at chords in ascending melodic themes are bookended between the downtempo rhythm section and the tropical atmosphere enveloping the opening track. That track is “from 2014” says Tarjei over an impromptu telephone call on a Friday afternoon. Lost in Lindos “started with that track” when he sent Andrew Hogge from ESP institute an unsolicited email, which prompted the response from the label head: “I want to put this track out, do you have any other tracks?”

You’ve had a pretty reserved output since putting out your first EP on Prins Thomas’ Full Pupp label.

I don’t just put out stuff to put out stuff. I’m more interested in making tracks and haven’t spent that much time in pushing the music out.”

So what brought this EP to ESP institute?

“It just started with, I’m going to send him an email.”

Tarjei is on the phone from the Kunsthall in Stranvanger, where is currently occupied in his day job as an events producer. His position puts him “in charge of events, setting up exhibitions” and “programming music concepts.” It’s a favourable position for anybody with an invested interest in music like his, and something of a dream position for the artist from Notodden. “That’s always been what I wanted,” he explains and it clarifies the reserved output to some degree; with no need to constantly distribute, he can focus on only getting the best of the music he’s made into the world.

Do you think your sound has evolved a lot since your first record, Katapult to Lost Lindos?

“It’s difficult to say because you can’t really get a bird’s eye view on your own music, but it is always an organic approach.”

“Katapult had been sitting for a while, before it got into (Prins) Thomas’ hands” and onto the Full Pupp  label and before Tarjei had started negotiating his way through the organic sounds he perpetuates through all his records as a solo artist he had dabbled in all kinds of other music. Growing up in rural Notodden, there wasn’t really any scene to talk of, but it was “very musical city” in Tarjei’s opinion nonetheless.

Tarjei had grown up in a very musical home. His father, an ordained minister has always been a “music lover” with “a huge collection of jazz and classical music” and he plied Tarjei’s formative years and musical education with a combination of these records and the “cheesy” Norwegian gospel music from the congregation. At home his father also played the piano, and although Tarjei admits that music had always been “very important” in his home, he was never lured over to the piano or any other instrument for that matter and considers himself a “self-taught musician” today. He had a vested interest in music as a committed listener however and started “exploring new music” as soon as he became conscious of it. When he was old enough, he “got a job at a local record store and started digging from the get go.” It wouldn’t be long before Djing and producing enticed the young Nygård out from the counter and into the booth.  

How did you arrive at making music?

“ I got a hold of a couple of technics turntables and then it all just fell into place.”

And Djing came first?

“Yeah but it all kind of happened at the same time because then I discovered this program called Reason. I got a bootleg CD from a friend that met a guy in the military.

The clandestine exchange through the army barracks, had set Tarjei on a path as an artist. He had found an immediate affinity with the music software and “started making music on the computer” almost intuitively. He “understood Reason quite fast” and utilised it to his designs in making mostly sample-based music in the beginning.

Tarjei approached DJing with everything from “funk, hiphop breaks and house music” coming into his purview. “I’ve never been thinking very genre-wise about the approach,” he explains. “it’s always been; ‘ah I like that song, I’m going to play that song.’”

How does this relate to what you do as a producer?

“I get inspired by the music I buy to play out. The music I produce is what goes through the system. I have certain sounds that I like, and it kind of all funnels through.“

What music were you making before you made your first record?

“I was producing hip-hop beats for rappers and I played in a band.”

What was the name of the band?

“Ah, I don’t really want to go down that road”… (laughs)

Tarjei admits “it took a long time” before he arrived at Katapult and the record had been sitting for some time before Prins Thomas heard it. But after sending the originals in their demo form and getting the OK from the Full Pupp boss, he quickly sent along the record in its completed form without much hesitation from Thomas who put them out immediately via his label. A couple of singles followed for Maksimal records and Full Pupp respectively in the consecutive year, and then there was a three year hiatus before Tarjei came back with “Bleausa” the first track on the latest EP and the promo single that preceded the eventual release of  “Lost in Lindos” in 2019.

All the tracks were made in the studio except for “Øylie” which he made on in an impromptu  musical cabin retreat with his friend Are Foss. “My good friend Are Foss should be mentioned” stresses Tarjei in a hurried voice, “because he was vital to ‘Øylie’ and to the record in a way.”

“Øylie” is a completely immersive ambient track. Are Foss strumming through the echoes of his guitar in one take, creates a languid movement, with minor modulations as the repetitions coaxed from an echo machine creates its own surprising patterns against a backdrop of sterile  keys and biotic atmospheres. Swathed in pads and feedback cascading through the main riff like light through a forest canopy, Tarjei and Are create a sublime, tranquil piece that plays beautifully against the knowledge of the setting of the recording.

The original “idea was to put a concert together for the birds,” says Tarjei through whatI surmise is a smile. Originally, there had been some intention to make club music, but it had been “impossible because the environment actually has a lot to say, surprisingly.” They drove all their equipment down to Are’s secluded cabin on a “sketchy “four-wheeler motorcycle and set up a makeshift studio in the cabin. Completely secluded, they could “play as loud” as they wanted and from that single riff, whittled down to a single chord and an echo, “Øylie” came to life and completed the “Lost in Lindos” EP.

What’s next for you after this record?

“I’m actually working on an EP with tracks made from that cabin session. We went back there  this winter and this time we took all the instruments on a scooter. “(laughs)

Will it feature that same organic sound of Øylie?

“Yes, when I work with Are it goes that way.”

Tarjei has no intentions of reaching out to a label for that one just yet, and is still just in the process of finishing those pieces. There is no immediate rush, and Tarjei will maintain that same organic approach to making music that has made his records such prominent and significant contribution to the Norwegian electronic and DJ music scene.

Whatever he puts out, if he does indeed feel the need to put something out, will undeniably be yet another considered record that will make a unique impression, like every record before it and “Lost in Lindos” did this year. When I look down at the clock, I’ve run over our allocated time, but Tarjei is amenable and waves off the delay with a guffaw. I start to hang up, but then remember something…

O, but wait we have to plug the upcoming night with Hubbas Klubb at Jaeger. Have you started preparing your record bag?

“I haven’t started collecting records for that night, but I always like fun and quirky House records.”

And considering it’s the day after 17th May, will that influence your selections on the night?

“O, I guess I have to find the perfect champagne hungover music.” (laughs)

 

The Cut with Filter Musikk

Appearing in a record sleeve at Filter Musikk this week: “Another crap record you won’t play – Why do I bother” …  

“Please give it a listen though, you may not agree.” – Anonymous

A clever bit of promo? Perhaps, but either way, it’s the most perfect summation of our contemporary, personal music experience. In modern times where every living artist is able to create, produce, and distribute his/her music from the comfort of their bedroom, there is so much music out there, and a little something for everybody. From an extensive music library that keeps  growing exponentially, we’re able to carve out a very niche, personal listening experience, completely unique to the individual and completely free from outside influences.

Radio, streaming services, verbal recommendations and especially personal relationships with a piece of music or an artist all influence our personal tastes, and we find ourselves in a period of a very diverse musical experiences for an individual, where we can go from listening to the honky tonk sounds of a country-esque group from the UK to the spaced-out sounds of Detroit Techno interpreted by a Dutch artist using old synthesisers made in Japan. (That’s literally just happened as I wrote this.)

It’s an incredible age we live in, but with so much musical stimulation coming from so many channels we are absolutely saturated with music and at times we need to take a step back, take stock, invest in the music that makes a lasting impression, and give a little back to the people that put so much effort into these creations. For that there’s is still only once place to turn. It’s a place as old as the commercial music printing press, and it’s still one of the most significant institutions in this thing we call DJ culture.

It’s the record store. It might have gone through some incredible changes with the development of the Internet as it migrated from the physical- to the virtual realm, but it’s ethos remains unchanged and those entities that continue to perpetuate that ideology, have become institutions in their own right. Filter Musikk in Oslo is one of those and continues to be a barometer for those looking for a sincere recommendation, especially  when it’s from one of Oslo’s leading figures in electronic music, Roland Lifjell.

Every week he gets a new batch of records at Filter Musikk, and whenever he does he gives us first dibs and together we select a few to make it into the cut with Filter Musikk. These aren’t just another crap record, you won’t play, and all of these records deserve more than just a listen…

 

Legowelt – Star Simulator (Clone Jack For Daze) 12link

For over two decades Legowelt has perpetuated a sound that has evolved or deviated little from those first Bunker records. Helena Hauff once surmised that the Dutch producer continues to make music like this because he considers that original sound from Detroit the most “perfect sound” in electronic music, and who are we to argue with that kind of logic.

From his arsenal of synthesisers… did you just say synthesiser…  yes synthesisers – Danny Wolfers loves his synthesisers – Legowelt coaxes a very distinct sound, one that has remained largely unchanged since he first started making music back in the 1990’s.

He is nothing but consistent, and more often than not, consistently good as he finds that rare position in his music, where dynamism, functionality, sound design and conceptualism converge on electronic, beat music. His latest contribution to the Clone Jack for Daze series is no different as he channels pragmatic beats, ethereal textures and emphatic melodies through his machines.

There’s always a kind of retrofitted sonic dexterity to Wolfers music as Legowelt, impart due to the equipment he uses, but also in the way he combines these sounds. Several layers of familiar synthetic textures course through the music as Wolfers explores abstract themes of space and fantasy in music that arrives in the present from a timeline, where Detroit never relinquished Techno to the Germans and captain Kirk is sill at the helm of the Enterprise.

There’s no need to mess with perfection and on his latest EP,” Star Simulator,” Legowelt stays the course, and from his bunker of synthesisers, he creates yet another significant contribution to his incredible discography… synthesiser…

 

Chiraya – Skranglebass EP (Entrepôt) 12″link

It’s new Norwegian music coming via the Belgium label, Entrepôt. Chiraya (formerly Furmit) is an Oslo-based producer that we don’t know anything about, and as far as we can tell Skranglebass is the first record he’s made under this alias. The name, taken from the defunct online radio station of some repute, is something of a homage to the DIY house sounds of early Norwegian electronic music and the deeper community that sprung up around it, which Chiraya honors it seems through four visceral, classic House tracks.

Chiraya favours a raw, domineering approach to House music as big kicks, razor-like melodic stabs and densely orchestrated samples strain and distort under their own weight. Everything seems to happen and is orchestrated for the moment, and there’s an incredibly potent and infectious live feel to the record as filters rise in and out of their frequency range and progressions halt and proceed at the will of some free improvisation.

The most surprising track on the EP is “Ekeberg” which was apparently taken from the hardware mega jam at Sommerøya last year. How anybody could make sense of that tangled mess, let alone get something so pure and concise out of it on a record, is a masterclass in itself. Soulful vocals screech out into the distance through the wave of one-fingered keys, while a hi-hat patters in the syncopated silence of that ever-present kick, stomping its way towards the dance floor. “Ekeberg” is the definitive sound of this record with all the other contributions clearly following in its wake through the EP.

 

Unprofessional – Civilization At The Bio Store (Forbidden Planet) 12″link

Forbidden Planet pick up the pace on this latest offering from unknown artist Unprofessional. “Civilisation at the Bio store” combines elements of EBM, Techno and Trance for an eccentric  take on the dance floor.

Between the contrast of the upbeat melodic bass lines and rhythm section and the malicious whispers and electronic atmospheres in the distance, Unprofessional has certainly arrived at a sound that is incredibly unique for its time.

You might be inclined to think Gabber by the third and penultimate track, “The final Info line” but there’s a little more on the bone to this record than a tawdry Dutch hardcorethrowback record. It’s not a subtle record, but it’s appropriating disparate musical cues to create something unique. Although very minimal in design, each part is created to make a prominent sonic impression in any context.

Bold, noisy synthesisers dominate the stereo field, while energetic percussive workouts rush through the progression of the tracks. “Civilization at the Bio Store” has an immediate and brief effect, but in its simplicity and its succinctness it achieves powerful results. It might need a little more refinement according to some, but it’s certainly refreshing to hear a new artist like this, veering from tried and tested formulas.  

 

Daniel Avery – Song For Alpha Remixes: One (Phantasy Sound) 12″ link

Yet another remix package from Daniel Avery’s “Song for Alpha” record from last year. There are already three different editions of this particular remix package out there as well as a couple of remixes from Four Tet and Jon Hopkins, but as is the nature of the drawn out physical release, we’ve only just received the first version.

Daniel Avery and Phantasy Sound hand over a few tracks from the album to three of the most uncompromising Techno artists operating in the scene today for the remix treatment. Manni Dee, Anastasia Kristensen and Patrick Russel put their spin on “Citizen // Nowhere,” “Glitter” and “Diminuendo” respectively, but the title is pretty much where they sever all connection to the originals.

Manni Dee’s blistering hardcore treatment of “Citizen // Nowhere” borders on sacrlige as he retains almost nothing of the original, shoehorning it into the sonic aesthetic he’s been cultivatingas a solo artist and live performer of late. And while Patrick Russel is the only artist that took the original in the opposite direction from Avery’s 4-4 original “Diminuendo”, this remix package is very much about outer extremes and clearly earmarked for a more progressive dancing audience.

Anastasia Kristensen too deliberately exposed the mere inner workings of the track, aggrandizing their simple functionality for a remix that skates around the fringes of Manni Dee’s interpretation. Over-extended tempos through a percussive onslaught of a-tonal noise dominates this record as these remixes offer very different interprations of the originals.  

…And be prepared as you go into Manni Dee’s rendition of “Citizen // Nowhere” after the first break… massive…

 

“We didn’t make shit for anybody else” – Jamie 3:26 in profile

Jamie 3:26 embodies the spirit and origins of House music. It’s even there in his name; 3:26 a reference to the address of the iconic Music Box in Chicago, where Ron Hardy held a residency and where Jamie first became aware of this thing called House. Born and raised in Chicago, it was dancing that led the nascent DJ and producer towards a path to House music. “I was introduced to this from my family,” he told Black Widow’s Web in 2018. “We would have a lot of parties at our house. Eventually, I began sneaking out to some of those basement parties. That’s when I started really getting into going to the parties and dancing. That was around 1985.”

Hip Hop had laid the foundation for an interest in music and DJing, but dancing was Jamie’s access to this nocturnal paradise in Chicago. “That’s how house music started;” Jamie compares; “DJs started making their own stuff to separate themselves and to be different.” Although the dance floor was his domain, the DJ booth beckoned, but it would remain a hobby for the longest time, due to some crippling stage fright. “I would kick ass in the basement but when it came time for the gig I would freak out and mess up,” he told 5 Mag’s Terry Matthew back in 2013. “I had a few chances to do some parties and they were like, ‘Okay, Jamie, go back to dancing.’”

Dancing did however offer the young Jamie a gateway to some of Chicago’s leading lights behind the decks, DJ’s like Ron Hardy, who he would often mention as a major inspiration in interviews. From his unique vantage point he “studied a lot of popular DJs and learned about timing and how they set up songs and things like that”. He “would hang out at the Music Box/Powerhouse on 22nd and Michigan” and “when they would DJ downstairs, Ron (Hardy) would let me get in the back and check him out.”

Influenced by Hardy and other greats like Lil Louis and Pharris Thomas he worked at his skills. These luminaries taught him about things like “crowd control” and armed with his parents’ record collection, he set out to master his craft like an astute student from these legends of House music.

When Jamie’s confidence started to mature as a DJ, he and some friends started a crew called lust corp and even though they weren’t meeting the age requirements at the door, they had youthful exuberance and numbers on their side. “We were a pretty deep crew,” explains Jamie. “We had the gift of gab and would talk our way in.”  Combining the lessons he learnt from the DJs around him and the experience he was gathering in the booth as a DJ, he eventually came into his own in the Chicago scene. Admittedly, it took him a “while to get it all together” but when he did, he instinctively set himself apart from the rest of the scene through his selections.

He and his crew “would listen to music and be like, ‘Aww that sounds like something Frankie would play or Ronnie may play,’” avoiding these records for something undiscovered and something that could distinguish them from their senior peers.  “We were looking for that gem, something to set you apart that no one had.” By the time Jamie was coming into his own as a DJ, Chicago had played an integral role in the dominance of House music on an international level, but at home it still had its own divisions across the scene. “You can have someone from Chicago that’s known everywhere around the world”… Jamie told 5 mag, “and here, they’ll be like, ‘Who are you? He ain’t shit.’” That kind of trial by fire must have had some effect on Jamie and well before he started making waves on the international circuit, he spent years proving himself on the local circuit. “In regard to any kind of scene, there’s not a lot of hometown support,” but Jamie persevered and by the time he released his first record, he had not only garnered the respect of people like Theo Parrish and the Hardys, but had also started to make his imprint in DJ booths in places like New York.

Between starting to DJ and that first release, nearly a couple of decades transpired, but Jamie’s ascent onto the world stage had still been a rapid one after the release of basement edits volume 1 on Bill (Ron’s brother) Hardy’s Parte Hardy label. It was a huge honour as the first, and to this day, the only artist ever to feature on the label other than Ron Hardy. Jamie’s music lifted some choice samples from some obscure records, cut them down to their bare essentials and built them back up to a point where they’d combine their infectious, at times familiar origins with a modern take on the dance floor.

Jamie’s music is built on the very same foundations of that Chicago legacy and the traditions of the edit, first introduced to the world by the likes of Hardy and Pharris, which still to this day sets the city’s music apart from the rest of the world.  “That’s what made the Chicago sound so unique and so different:” he says about the music. “We didn’t make shit for anybody else but us. They discovered us. We didn’t make shit for New York or Europe. This was for us.”

But it didn’t take long for the rest of the world to cotton on to Jamie 3:26. Theo Parrish was particularly instrumental in disseminating Jamie’s edits and even before the basement edits volume 1 came out he had been championing his Chicago counterpart through his sets. “I owe a lot to Theo Parrish,” urges Jamie in 5 mag. “I gave him a disc a few years earlier and he found a few of my edits that he loved and played the fuck out of them.”

From there Jamie started getting gig offers in New York and eventually Europe, and his popularity continued to grow around the world as the producer of edits like “Hit it n Quit it”, “Testify” and many more for labels like Rush Hour and Lumberjacks in Hell. A move to Amsterdam put him in reach of an European audience and his prowess in the booth had gone from being a local secret in the insular scene in Chicago to a prominent fixture in booths all around the world.

He might have taken longer than his Chicago peers to get to the same level, but Jamie 3:26 is a Chicago legend in every respect and more. He is one of the few Chicago DJs that can boast being both world famous and Chicago famous, and he is one of a very select few DJs in Chicago that can bridge the North and South divide in his hometown, an “imaginary Mason-Dixon Line” at Roosevelt Street as he calls it in 5 Mag. “There’s two different house music worlds here,” according to Jamie in 2013, “there’s a black house music world and a white house music world” and Jamie is one of the few DJs that is welcomed in both. “You can call me the Rosa Parks of House Music!” he jokes, but it verifies his unique ability to please a diverse crowd through his sets.

There’s a personality to the music he brings to his sets and the way he strings them together. Vocals and that Chicago funk bring a dynamism that seems to electrify and energise the dance floor and with Jamie’s individuality as a DJ through what he’s learnt and experienced through one of the most dominant House music scenes in the world, there are few DJs that does what he does in the way he does it.

 

*Jamie 3:26 plays Retro this Thursday, on the eve of 17.May. 

Album of the week: Bendik Baksaas & Fredrik Høyer – Til Alt Ute: Måne & Sol

Bendik Baksaas has been a prolific figure on the Norwegian electronic music circuit for the past few years. A solo recording artist, DJ, live performer and sound artist, Bendik Baksaas occupies many spheres in the vast landscape of electronic music, which he has recently channelled into a distinct dialect, bordering on the fringes of micro house, minimal techno and what he refers to as “rhythmical ambient”.

He collaborates often with other esteemed Norwegian artists and has performed and recorded with Kristtoffer Eikrem, Kim Dürbeck and poet Fredrik Høyer in the past, and it is particularly this last collaboration that has put him in the spotlight in Oslo and Norway recently. After collaborating on the 2017 LP Grønland Kaller in 2017, an LP that saw Baksaas adding a musical soundtrack to the poems of Høyer, they came together once more in 2018 to create an extensive, original album together. It’s actually two LPs, Sol and Måne, but on the physical format we get a distilled, edited version of both on a beautiful gatefold double LP and a printed book for the lyrics.

“It will be the grandest masterpiece in the history of Norwegian music-literature,” Baksaas told us in an interview just before the LP was released. “I believe that for all future it will be a point of reference to anyone who’s interested in how it was to be a young person in Norway in the years 2017 – 2019.” 222 minutes of a sonic soliloquy commences, taking us on a journey through a Saturday night in a Norwegian city; “from the ‘plastic bag hour’, where you see hundreds of people in the streets running around with their beer in plastic bags that they just managed to buy before six, to the stories at the vorspiel, the intensity of the dancefloor and the big speakers, to the events at the nachspiel and the doglike retreat home in the morning.”

The record encapsulates the essence of youth culture in Norway projected through the voice of one of the country’s seminal  contemporary wordsmiths, Fredrik Høyer. Høyer and a host of young poets invited to contribute, document a night out from a Norwegian twenty-something’s perspective with Baksaas’ strident sonic creations intertwined in their words.

Piercing atmospheres and bold rhythmic progressions with clear designs on the dance floor, create a visceral accompaniment to lyrics covering everything from inane “vorspiel” conversations to the abstract thoughts that swirl through your head as you slip into reverie after a night on the dance floor. Moments of peaceful repose like “Fake blodmåner og England” are contrasted with the intense rhythmic assault of tracks like “Sjølvgeograpfi”, representing the two very different aspects of Norwegian nightlife culture going to- and from the dance floor.

Unlike “Grønland Kaller,” Baksaas and Høyer created this LP together, making for a more concise and visceral record where one element enhances the other. Without Høyer’s voice in the foreground and without Baksaas music, the effect of these tracks would have been far less impressive, as both seem to rely on the other to strike a chord in the listener. Baksaas repetitive loops would be listless without Høyer’s punchy provocative articulations and where the two artists intersect, they have found a unique sound and new objective in electronic music.

Front Left Speaker: Clubbing’s bourgeoisie on a trip in the desert and the inconvenient truth about a sustainable festival

Crossing the threshold into Afrika Burns in 2013, a band of carnival characters encourage newcomers to abandon the outside world in theatrical flair, ringing in a suspended gong under a sign reading: “you are entering the real world.” The real world? A week of escapism in an inhabitable corner of the Klein Karoo desert, far enough removed from society to become its own self-contained community where revellers indulge their creative fantasies and whims in an effort to leave the problems of the outside world at bay, for a weekend in April.

Your only access to this “real world” is a rocky road, which the mid-size rental, struggles along at a blistering 40km/h through a constant veil of dust as expensive 4×4 pickup trucks zoom past at twice the speed, eager to get to the only destination on that road. The sedan creaks to a halt at the gate, the suspension hardly displaying the same exuberant bounce it had when we first took ownership of the vehicle, as the load, including three people and about 600l of water, proved too much for the little car on those gravel roads. Besides a couple of plastic hubcaps, which were swallowed up by the dust, we arrive in one piece, and enter the “real world”, with a cymbal ringing out across the vast empty landscape.

Afrika Burns is a subsidiary of Burning Man, the world-renowned cultural event that erects a temporary, creative metropolis in the Nevada desert each year, with the climax of the event culminating in the burning of an amorphous effigy, before the “city” evaporates again into thin air. In the last ten years however, the festival has been dominated by a kind of tech-industry bourgeoisie and businessman-turned-temporary-hedonist in a week orchestrated solely for experimenting with all kinds of drugs, especially of the psychotropic variety. Transpose this to an arid desert enclave in the heart of South Africa’s Klein Karoo, and you have Afrika Burns.

While temporary infrastructures erected to be literally burned to the ground for the sake of the amusement for a bunch of white trust fund kids, carries its own socio-political questions in the complex tapestry of South Africa’s history, this is not the place and the time to fuel that fire (pardon the pun), especially with elections looming, but I will say this: it’s a thought that comes abundantly obvious as those expensive 4×4’s, overland trucks and various motorised toys for boys started rolling in and setting up mega-camps with all the luxuries of home to accommodate a five-night stay. (Later editions of Afrika Burns would even offer “glamping” options for the more discerning kind of hedonist, completely unsanctioned by the organisers.)

Our camp, which was three tents and a few mattresses, was erected in a matter of minutes, and we immediately made our way to the cultural hub at the centre of the festival, getting swept up in the carnival atmosphere and the ensuing dust storm of the first night. The first evening (we were in it for the long haul, the whole five days) was a tentative step into the “burner” way of life as we indulged the creative whimsy of the folksy art and the temporary installations that had been erected prior to our arrival.  Mutant vehicles glided past, illuminated in colourful LED lights as if floating on air in the pitch-black natural darkness of the desert. On the outskirts of the camp a brilliant, starry night emerged out of the dusk and the dust as the first sound systems burred and spluttered into life in the inner circle of the camp.

An old double-decker bus created by a local crew called ledhedz decked out in a convertible roof that flipped open to neon psychedelic microchip and DJ booth, quickly became the main attraction, and stayed it for the duration of the festival in fact. Through the night more and more people would be lured to the deep and effervescent sounds of the bus as some of Cape Town’s DJ luminaries like Bruno Morphet provided the playlist for the night, with a selection of Deep/Tech -House and minimal sounds partnering perfectly with the vast extensive landscape stretching out in every direction. Every bleep and pop of a kick seemed to get sucked into the amorphous black hole of the night and the desert, enticing bodies and ears to its sonic  luminous charm.

We staked our position in front of the impressive mobile sound system for the first time, lubricated with only alcohol to stave off the cold night air (in April the desert temperatures drop to the single digits in the Karoo). Our first night would be a relatively calm one as we tried to embrace this new self-sustaining civilisation, but our dough-eyed optimism in our newly discovered utopia would be short-lived, as by the next night it became abundantly clear what this was really all about; a drug festival in the desert for a kind of clubbing bourgeoisie.

The demographic was made up of marketing / advertiser young professionals; trust-fund hippies; and a few of the folks from the ever-popular psy-trance “scene” around the Western Cape (often cross-sectioning with the trust fund hippy). Everybody there came of some kind of means, us included, and none of us were in need of any kind of escape from the drudgery of the everyday; most of us were all seasoned clubbers and by association proficient politoxicologists.

On the second night, the liquid acid came out. A couple of drops around the dying embers of a fire and we were back at the ledhedz bus. As the bass from the bus went deeper and slower, the music started taking on swirling patterns that seemed to melt into the scenery, and everything fell into place. The installations, the mutant vehicles, the LED lights, the carnival atmosphere, and the secluded setting (especially this last part) were all there to indulge and in many cases heighten the psychotropic experience.

And if this was the only narrative they would spin, it would be fine, but the whole Burning Man franchise (and yes it is a franchise), is not marketed like that (and yes it is marketed). The ideology behind the festival series is about creating this self-sustaining desert metropolis where money is irrelevant and we become one with nature (leaving no imprint of our brief existence) in some form of progressive social society, but the reality is quite different.

By the third night in front of the ledhedz bus, the trash started piling up. The philosophy of taking all your trash with you had clearly not survived as Afrika Burns reached its climax and the twenty-something revellers forgot the utopian ideal they arrived with, strewing their plastic bottles, feather boas and cigarette butts wherever they danced that night. A social media feed (yes, you can get facebook in the desert – so much for leaving the fake world behind) from the ledhedz crew had shown the lower deck of the buss absolutely filled to the brim with bags of trash, none of which were their own.

The new social order quickly decayed into something more familiar, friendly acquaintances made on the first couple of nights, came of nothing and the groups that came together stayed together, tightly huddled together to avoid sharing their dwindling narcotic supplies.

The drug experiences continued, and everything was available… for a price that is. It seems that buck stops quite quickly in self-sustaining trading community, because your creative indulgence, free candy or holistic service still won’t buy you what you actually want, and that’s where good ole capitalism will always prevail. Even water, it turned out, wasn’t a commodity intended for trading. But that was ok, because the people at Afrika Burns have the means to provide their own provisions, which subverts the whole ideology of the burning man experience… doesn’t it?

By the fourth day I was over it. Caked in dirt, the drugs done, and all the liquid refreshment warm, I had had my fill and turned in early, purposefully avoiding the burning of the effigy. The allure of LED lights, impromptu folk art and even electronic music had run its course, and although the experience as a whole had left an impression on me, it was a conflicted one that came to an abrupt end with an explosion.

That final night, the camp behind us, the one that housed the volunteers, erupted in flames; the result of drug-addled mind trying to make a piece of toast. Fire!, somebody yelled running past my tent in the middle of the night, and in a sleep-deprived state, I answered, of course, we’re at Afrika Burns. Then I saw the flames, a terrifying blaze lapping up against the small road that separated our camp from the next.  “Yeah that seems about the perfect end to it” I thought calculating the distance and time it would take for the flames to reach the car, our tents and all our belongings. Fortunately this was the right place for a fire to happen if there ever was going to be one, and the organisers managed to quell it before it could do any really harm or damage, and a sense of relief spilled over me as I realised our only way out of there, the car. was still in tact.

Sleep on my rigid little stretcher didn’t come easy that night, not so much for the events that transpired, but just the sheer exhaustion of living a working week in the “real world.”  The morning illuminated the extent of the fire, the scorched earth and stories of helpless festival goers separated from their camp by the flames.

Packing up was even harder that morning than erecting the camp, as we had to shoehorn a pile of trash into the car alongside all those unused supplies. I marvelled at my neighbours as they were suddenly overcome with the giving spirit of the festival, offering free showers and past-expiration date food on the last day in an effort to avoid an overloaded haul over that bumpy, gravel terrain.. Many of the other mega-camp structures followed suit as they finally saw the need to shed their worldly belongings for the sake of lightening their loads and trash for the ride home. With no basic infrastructure it seems that we made more waste than what we would have if we had just stayed home.

We could’ve left these hedonistic adventures for the city, where things like trash disposal, ablutions and sewage is readily available, and left nature intact and undisturbed as it was before. Surely digging a trench for 1000’s of people’s evacuations must do something to the PH levels in the soil. All those disposal plastic water bottles have to go somewhere and it might not be a desert, but a trash heap somewhere else instead, doesn’t make a great solution either. Making 15 000 people drive 100’s of kilometres in fuel-hungry 4×4’s kicking up tons of dust in what is usually untouched terrain, certainly can’t be good for the atmosphere. Chauffeuring 50-odd DJs – some with a helicopter I might add– for about an hour and a half of playtime seems counter-intuitive with what we know about global warming today. Afrika Burns for all its ideologies and efforts is simply unsustainable.

No, I don’t think Afrika Burns is the great white hope of creating a sustainable festival experience, but in all honesty, Afrika Burns and even the bigger Burning Man franchise is the most conscious of it. It’s one of the better festivals in this regard, but a sustainable festival is an elusive pipedream; 1000’s of people temporarily migrating on mass to listen to DJs and artists flown in from all over the world for a brief performance, is just not sustainable.   

Our drive back was solemn and quiet affair, as we bobbed up and down on our rigid suspension, the whole car smelling the trash collected over five days, and three unwashed individuals. Every roadside bin on the way back, even the ones still technically in a nature reserve, was its only little trash heap. At the festival sight volunteers had already started combing through the desert for everything from plastic water bottles to glitter, as the trucks, 4x4s and overland busses started evacuating the site. I vowed this was the first and only time, and I’ve never been to a festival since.

A few days later, in the centre of Cape Town, we see one of the mutant vehicles, a vespa-turned-luminescent-swan leaving a streaking light in its wake. Are we in the real world now?

* Would you like to contribute ti the Front left Speaker series with your own tale from rave? Send us an email with your story. 

Album of the week: Late Night Tales – Floating Points

We’ve been completely enamoured with Floating Points since his 2014 LP, Elaenia and the live show that followed it. The records is still a regular favourite here, and when we saw the artist and band perform the LP at Øya a few years back, it remains one of the best shows we’ve ever experienced. In 2017 he consolidated the live experience and the recorded format for the live concept video LP, “Reflections” recorded live in the Mojave dessert. It had the critics divided, with them either singing its praises or confused by the conceptual thread underpinning the record, but none could avoid the record either way. Floating Points, the artist has made such an incredible impact on the landscape with records like Nuits Sonores / Nectarines elevated to the status of classics today,  that it is often hard to remember that Floating Points is also an incredible DJ.

While it might appear he’s trained most of his efforts on the recording/production aspects of his creative endeavours in recent years, he’s never stopped DJing – even after his memorable Øya performance, he took to Jaeger’s booth for a DJ set. He’s designed mixing consoles for Isonoe and is revered by his peers for his skills in the booth, which he applies with the same perfectionist touch that he utilises in the studio. His extensive musical taste covers everything from House to Jazz, selecting tracks that bask in their own obscurity, but somehow always sound contemporary and appropriate in whatever setting he might play out.

Lately he’s been travelling the breadth of the musical cosmos in mammoth all-day long sets that span up to eight hours long, but his critical appeal as a recording artist has still somewhat overshadowed his prowess as a DJ since Elaenia. Until now that is with his contribution to the Late Night Tales mix, and compilation series. Late Night Tales have been curating mixes from DJs like Bonobo, Lindstrøm and Four Tet as well as artists like The Flaming Lips, Arctic Monkeys and Belle & Sebastian, mixes that live beyond the club floor, for those early mornings, unwinding from a night on the tiles. Floating Points approaches the mix like a DJ but also like an artist, finding some harmonious bond between what he represents as a selector and the music he’s been making since Elaenia.

In its continuous form, Floating Points immerses the listener in luxurious organic textures and supple progressive pieces that border the musical landscapes between Jazz and Soul. Polyrhythmic percussive pieces from artists Max Roach and Alain Bellaïche sit beside sweet vocal pieces from the likes of The Defaulters and Bobby Wright, as the DJ bounces between introspective pieces testing the limits of the mix, before resolving again into something familiar or at least accessible, with elements like a human vocal or a surreptitiously strummed guitar, breaking down the listener’s defences. It’s a completely mesmeric mix where you find yourself just drifting along its entirety, as one sinuous thread pulls you along to the next. Floating Points has always been a great DJ, but in a mix like this, he really shows the depth of his extensive musical abilities. It’s not a mix you’ll admire for it’s transitions (although he’s flawless in that regard) but more for the way the DJ is able to establish a very defined mood and feeling through the music of others, one that is perfectly synchronised with the concept behind Late Night Tales.

A musical eden – The Kala festival with AKA Juan & Ollie Shapiro

The Kala Festival has transformed a little Albanian enclave in the Adriatic sea into a musical eden for a weekend in summer. The stunning location and sincere and considered booking strategy makes this little boutique festival in Dhërmi a musical retreat in all sense of the phrase. It’s a musical festival, but it’s also a vacation with a breathtaking setting and all the amenities of holiday rather than the arduous toil of your average festival.

Now in its second year Kala has established itself as one of the most exciting new developments on the festival circuit with a distinct approach to booking that stands apart from the rest with one of the most eye-watering lineups of the season, curated around the setting. Hunnee, Midland, Theo Parrish, Honey Dijon and Derrick May are some of the headliners for the festival, and with the likes of Brian not Brian, Jayda G and Fatima completing the lineup, and collaborators like Phonica and secretsundaze on the bill, there’s a dominant Balearic and House mood that looks set to prevail at Kala this year.

In 2019 Jaeger will collaborate with the festival for the first time and have occupied the Splendor stage for a day with Prins Thomas, Øyvind Morken, Bjørn Torske and Olanskii providing DJ sets well into the depths of the night. But before we do that AKA Juan & Ollie Shapiro will be joining us at Jaeger to bring a bit of the Kala life to our backyard. Armed with some 7” records and some 1” usb sticks, they have the floor for the evening to disseminate the sound of the Kala festival through their back to back set.  

AKA Juan and Ollie Shapiro are both intrinsic fixtures in the London DJ circuit. Coming from two distinct corners of the scene, they find a common ground in the booth, perpetuated through and influenced by the music profile of the Kala festival. With everything from Drum n Bass to Balearic influencing their selections, they are not constrained by fixed genres or styles in their sound. But besides that we know very little of AKA Juan & Ollie Shaprio and the origins of Kala festival, so we popped them an email to find out more ahead of their visit.

 

© Photography by Josh Hiatt for Here & Now (fb.com/wearehereandnow)

Hello Juan and Ollie, and thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. Let’s start with you. Can you tell us a bit about your own history with electronic music and DJing?

Juan: I had just finished music school when I first saw a video of A-Trak cuttin’ and scratching at the DMC world championship, think it was 2003 or 2004. I was fascinated by the way he was creating something completely new with just two turntables and a mixer. Sold my all my snowboard equipment to get my first pair of decks shortly after and locked myself up until I was able to scratch. My neighbours loved it :)

Ollie: I grew up in Bristol where it was kind of impossible to escape rave music, especially at that time. My first experiences were of Jungle and D&B, and it absolutely blew me away – hundreds of people losing their mind to music all at the same time – and very shortly I’d gotten some cheapo Stanton decks and was copying Andy C double-drops to imagined crowds of thousands in my parent’s house. I still have all those records somewhere…

How did you guys meet and what cemented your musical relationship?

Juan: We met through work actually. We both were part of the team that developed the concept of Kala. We are a small team based in London, shouts to the rest of the team, they are amazing!

Where do your musical tastes intersect?

Juan: I think Kala illustrates this quite accurately. We come from different backgrounds and both have quite a broad taste but there is a common thread that connects soul, disco, house and techno and that’s where we find common ground.

Ollie: Yep. Funnily enough we worked together for about 6 months before DJing together at all – and we kind of threw ourselves into that with closing Kala last year (which we’re doing again this year) – but we’d spent so much time discussing music that we knew we’d gel.

You have both been fixtures in London for some time. Who and what are some of your musical affiliations in the scene there?

Juan: I worked at Phonica Records for quite a few years which really made an impact on my music taste. Not only because I got exposed to a wild range of genres but also because I got to hang out with really knowledgeable people and all sorts of record nerds. We held residencies all over the city which normally means playing all night long sets and being able to play all sorts of music and take journeys through genres. I’m looking forward to playing all night at Jaeger this Saturday!

Ollie: I help run a charity party called Family Tree, which is very much centred around a big group of friends. I also regularly play all night in a club in Hackney called – seriously – Oslo. Also a quick shout out to some of the great London party-throwers who have had us play recently – Secretsundaze, World Unknown, Feelings and the rest!

Tell us a bit about the origins of the Kala festival.

Juan: One of the founders visited Dhërmi while on holiday and immediately saw the potential of the location. Launching a new festival in a previously unused location is not an easy task, it took over 4 years of preparation to bring it to life but we have an incredible team and couldn’t be happier with how things went last summer. This year is looking even better!

 

© Photography by Josh Hiatt for Here & Now (fb.com/wearehereandnow)

It’s in its second year. What did you take away from the first year and what has been the crucial ideology behind the festival since it’s started?

Juan: From the beginning, we wanted to offer a different kind of festival experience. Kala dares to blur the lines between holiday and music festival. It offers a week of thoughtfully curated music, paradisiacal beaches, holiday and wellness activities and the opportunity to travel to an unknown destination – Albania is the last short-haul European sunspot that hasn’t been flooded by mass tourism.

We also put great effort in the programming. You can spend the day relaxing at one of the amazing beaches, go snorkeling or take a boat to Gjipe – a beach forest sitting at the end of a natural canyon where the likes of Jamie Tiller and John Gómez play during the weekend. At night, headline DJs play extended 5h sets, which means there is time to check other stages and acts without missing out. It’s a more relaxed festival experience than having to plan your day and night in order to see everyone you bought the ticket for.

How does the booking strategy reflect this?

Ollie: Every single DJ we have at Kala is someone I’d trust with an all-night set at a club. I think that’s a big test for me – are they just a producer who’s had a few big tunes? If so, that’s not really our vibe. If they’re the sort of DJ who can hold it down on many different types of dancefloors at many different times of day or night, then they’re much more likely to fit in at Kala.

With the bookings for 2019 there seems to be a specific kind of sound/mood to your choices. Is there usually a theme for your choices of acts/DJs and what influenced your decisions for this year?

Ollie: Haha – the theme is ‘really, really good’. I have a huge longlist of DJs and live acts that have blown me away in some way or another. Then we look at the programming plan across the week, and find DJs from that list who fit every slot – who do we want to play this sunrise slot? Who do we want to knock it out of the park at peak time at Empire? There’s SO many fantastic DJs around at the moment that it’s incredibly exciting (and hard!) planning it all out.

How much does the setting play a role in the sound of the festival?

Ollie: A huge role. It’s such an incredible place that the sound and the setting are totally intrinsic. You can feel that while you’re there, too; the sense of freedom people feel while there extends into the way they interact with the music. It becomes very open-minded and DJs can really tap into that.

Why did you decide on Albania for the location?

Ollie: The founder Juan mentioned above who went to Dhermi on holiday has a Kosovan partner; they took them there, and that was that. The enthusiasm and hospitality we encountered from the Albanians during the planning just cemented it.

What is the local scene like in Albania for DJs and House music, and how does that factor into the festival?

Ollie: Tirana has some maaad warehouse parties, and some wicked local selectors – we have a bunch coming down to play!

© Photography by Josh Hiatt for Here & Now (fb.com/wearehereandnow)

Jaeger will also be hosting a stage at Kala this year alongside Secretsundaze, Phonica Records, Stamp The Wax, Feelings and World Unknown. What’s the nature of these collaborations and what should we expect in our first year?

Ollie: It’s really just a case of (in some sense) like-minded musical souls who we get excited about the prospect of letting them do their thing. There’s a lot of parallels in ethos between Jaeger and Kala, and not just in the bookings. Plus, giving a night under the stars on the beach to Prins Thomas, Oyvind Morken, Bjorn Torske and Olanskii is just…how could it be anything other than brilliant?

You’ll be bringing the Kala spirit of the festival over to Oslo this weekend. If you had to sum that up in one track, what would it be?

Juan: It’s hard to boil it down to only one track but I’m looking forward to dropping this Zazou Biyake Afro-acid mix. https://youtu.be/gkU4hbN7t6I

Ollie: Oooof that’s tough! Gonna go with Juan’s cop-out too and say this is quite a Kala track by Tony Esposito that I’m looking forward to pumping out at Jaeger: https://youtu.be/Awp-O9rtGgI

You’re playing to our backyard all night long. How do you imagine your set going on the night?

Juan: Probably start with some 7 inches, rare groove and balearic disco then move on to housier territories, italo, cosmic disco and let’s see where we end up!

Ollie: Sounds about right. I’m bringing a USB stick rather than vinyl though, so my 7 inches will be more like 1 inches…

Thank you Juan and Ollie. That’s all the questions I have. Do you have anything to add?

Thanks for having us! We are really looking forward to play at the club!

 

The cut with Filter Musikk

The dust has started to settle from the extensive building work around Skippergata, revealing a new pristine walkway in the shade of the new Clarion hub extension with its shiny midas cladding glistening against the arrival of the Norwegian spring sun. It casts a long shadow over one of Oslo’s musical institutions, Filter Musikk where Roland Lifjell has presided over Oslo’s DJ- and electronic music community since time immemorial (2002)  and while everything around it might be changing it’s still the most consistent barometer for good, electronic music in the city of Oslo.

The face of the city’s landscape might have changed drastically since Roland Lifjell took over Filter Musikk, but the shop and the DJ behind the shop has been an unwavering presence in the culture. When an interest in vinyl waned, he and Filter Musikk persevered and when hype permeated through the scene and record stores, selling endless represses of Rolling Stones LPs became the norm, he was still there pursuing the original ideologies of record- and DJ culture.

Personally selecting the labels, artists and records that pass through the store, Roland Lifjell is one of the last archetypal record store owner/clerks. Always available for a chat; ready with a cup of Norway’s finest instant coffee; and always at hand with a new record for you, he and Filter Musikk are a piece of history, a piece of the past, hermetically sealed in time in our contemporary age. As the face of the scene and the city keeps changing around it, Filter Musikk upholds the legacy and the origins of this culture.

Every week he unpacks a new box of records from kindred spirits that pursue the same values he does across club music genres from around the world. He remains a ballast for the DJ community in the city, putting new Nowregian artists and labels first in the store, putting these on equal footing alongside their international counterparts. He instinctively knows his audience and regardless of your musical preferences, there’s always something new at hand for the discerning music fan. Together, with Roland, we pick through the latest arrivals and where our tastes converge, we arrive at the cut with Filter Musikk.

*Filter Musikk and Roland Lifjell are back this Friday at Jæger with Donato Dozzy.

 

Trevor Deep Jr., Wasserfall & Vaage, S. Brand, Sagittarii Acid – HMD 001 (HMD) 12″

A new Norwegian vinyl label emerges from the Hjemme Med Dama cassette label and mix series. What started off as a house (as in “home” not the genre) party in Jan Fredrik Bjerk’s (aka Jan Mayan) apartment turned into a recorded mix series, a cassette label, a fanzine, an event, and a festival, has arrived at the vinyl format for the first time. Where Hjemme Med Dama was already an all-encompassing fixture in Oslo, it is now disseminating its musical ideologies to the wider world through a new compilation EP, carrying the spirit of the label forward.

For the first release Jan Fredrik Bjerk assembles a group of producers that operate in the trenches of House and Acid in Norway and beyond, as he continues to pursue his love for all things deep under the Hjemme Med Dama banner.

Besides Trevor Deep Jr., a duo hailing from Finland, all the other artists are Norwegian, most of them from Oslo and all very close proximities to the Hjemme Med Dama mainstay. Together, and completely independently of each other, they’ve cemented Bjerk’s vision for this first compilation which immediately finds some congruity with the mix series and cassette label in the deep spirit of Hjemme Med Dama. Each artist interpreting it in their own particular idiom, they contribute four exquisite dance floor cuts for the House music enthusiast.

From S. Brand’s vertigo inducing themes, Sagittari Acid’s lysergic 303 movements,  Trevor Deep Jr.’s, balearic downtempo beats, to Wasserfall & Vaage’s luxuriously deep key work, each artist stakes a claim in some corner of the House music’s rhombicosidodecahedron. It’s good to hear that a new Norwegian vinyl label is joining the fray and the fact that it is based in Oslo is also very promising for the scene here.  

 

Fort Romeau – Heaven & Earth (Permanent Vacation) 12″

Harnessing that immense power he imbues in his work, Fort Romeau points his striking synthetic designs towards the astral plane for four deep, transient House tracks with transcendental qualities.

The UK artist taps into elements of Trance as synth arpeggios climb unscalable heights towards some ethereal plato, weighed down by the gravitational pull of the kick-bass arrangements. While the Trance references are quite subtle on most of the album, “Visions” transports us back to 1999 as galloping triplet bass sequences play alongside droning four-four kicks, while synthesisers play in the cosmos of the track. If it were faster, it could border on the psychedelic, but Fort Romeau restrains his indulgences and, incorporating elements like eighties synth textures or hand percussion, he subverts the tawdry and the clichéd, offering his own modern interpretation on the genre.

Each track is quite different on this EP, however and each seems to make its own impression on the listener. “Eye of Re” reaches out into the cosmos in search of a space beyond Disco through squirmy acid bass lines and tweeting toms, while the title track grounds itself in something more earthy, and the closest we’ll get to Fort Romeau’s earlier works. Opener “Just” is also full of surprises as the UK artist seems to channel the likes of Jarre and Moroder for a trippy House track with traces of nu disco, and eighties body music proving too infectious to ignore.

Beyond the immediacy of all the songs on this record, it tends to stay with the listener, and it’s definitely something worth returning to time and time again, revealing new intrinsic layers beyond the immediate.

 

Skee Mask – 808BB (Ilian Tape) 12″

Ilian Tape’s exclusive vehicle for the music of Skee Mask returns with “808BB”. As the autonomous outlet for the Ilian Tape mastermind wildest fantasies it sets itself somewhat apart from the rest of the Ilian tape catalogue. Uncompromising, sometimes provocative, and always unique, Skee Mask’s music occupies outlier genres operating at the fringes of club music. The German artist operates between Techno, Breakbeats and Ambient noise in tracks that don’t pander to the dance floor, but rather dominate it.

Big beat constructions that feign rudimentary 4-4, skip and hop along like a North Korean military parade on the opener, “Trackheadz” for this latest release. Snare drums scatter in the wake of the kick as the track stutters through its progression. But there’s more to the track than the all-consuming power of its presence, and all kinds of pads, vocal samples and glitches assemble to create something more than just a functional dance floor stomper.

It’s something Skee Mask takes to the other extreme on the B-side with two torpid ambient, breakbeat tracks that languish in serene pads and subtle rattling beats that very rarely pierce the delicate textures of these tracks.

 

Charlton – Till Love Do Us Part (Mord) 12″

While we’re on the subject of uncompromising Techno… Mord exists and German producer Charlton has found his way back on the label with “Till Love do us part”. Following a few releases for the label in the past, Charlton perpetuates the all-consuming sound of the label, with big thunderous beats and sinister atmospheres dominating the record.  

A deep, dark void appearing like a blackhole at the edge of the beats suck everything into the gravitational pull of the kick drum. Remnants of sparkling textures, broken down to mere molecules, re-ordered and re-assembled in a two dimensional plane, struggle to form a consistent atmosphere through the litany of percussive beats.

Even at his most reserved through “SHR_MS” and “Till Love do Us Part”, Charlton plays on a kind of ambiguous, yet unbridled energy that propels the tracks along the timeline. Obscure, psychedelic and abstract melodic- and harmonic phrasing garner a sense of unease, especially potent on the closing track, “Somewhere Between.”

 

Versalife – Vortices EP (Shipwrec) 12″

We’ve sung the praises of Versalife and Shipwrec records on this feature a few times before, so whenever either falls into our purview, it at the very least demands a listen. Versalife’s expressive and extensive take on the Electro genre is captivating for the sonic palette he creates through his music. Sharp concise percussive parts, perforating effervescent textures and exploratory electronic arrangements, find the artist thriving on the borders of IDM and Braindance without falling head first into the self-indulgent sonic braggadaccio that can often define those genres.

Versalife favours a more temperate zone between those two amorphous electronic bodies, and while he’s eager to indulge the experimental, he never subverts the experiential in the process. His latest EP on Shipwrec particularly aligns with the latter, as he moves away from the controlled, progressive arrangements from his recent Soul of the Automaton series in search of something a little more free from the constraints of a predefined structure.

Over four tracks, Versalife creates pieces that are tethered to their central theme, a simple loop that varies only in timbre as alien pieces float through their timeline like strangers on a train. There’s a very improvised feel to this record as a performance ensues with no real clear, ultimate destination ever revealing itself through the tracks. There are distinct elements however like that deep gurgling 303 bassline of the title track and “Chimaera” or the immensely orchestrated atmospheres of “Amber Molecular Profile” that really stick out on this release, and with no real arc to these tracks, Versalife gives you enough time to wholly appreciate these magnificent sonic elements.

It’s this focus on the sonic design – and it’s something that he does across his other aliases like Conforce and Hexagon too – that is Versalife’s major appeal. Every sonic moment on this record, like all his other records is so intricate and precisely orchestrated within the dynamic of the rest of the track. “Vortices” is yet again another masterclass from the producer and artist and so we’ll continue to sing his praises here.  

 

Hear Charlotte Bendiks on the Uncanny Valley podcast

Charlotte Bendiks delivers a mix for the people at Uncanny Valley following her contribution to the RED compilation on the label last month. Our Ironi resident continues to play on the dark, sultry sounds of the club floor in this mix, something she has perpetuated through her music and sets in recent years. Eclectic, yet esoteric in its musical vision, this mix travels thruogh elements of House, Synthwave and new, Nu Beat in a restless and psychedelic hour of music.

There’s some congruity between the mix and her latest single for the label, as dark, deep undertones bounce through polyrhythmic, percussive arrangements in search of some psychotropic experience. “Pasco” sits alongside tracks from The Golden Filter, Mayan Gold and Katrina & Sneaker and is available now through most musical outlets, including bandcamp. You can stream that track below.

Charlotte Bendiks will be back at Jaeger this June for Pride x Ironi with Carlo & Selma from Group Therapy.

What have the futurists ever done for us?

In part 2 of “what have the futurists ever done for us”, Ross Bicknell continues to draw a tenuous thread between the futurist’s art movement of the early 20th century and modern Techno from the likes of Donato Dozzy. Read part 1 here.

It’s a blessing Russolo’s device has only scantly surviving auditory evidence of its existence. Firstly for me as a writer because it means I can invent whatever I damn well like about it, and also because it fires the starting gun on any imagination concerned with these things to run headlong into the beautiful, dystopian distance, (toward a dying, bleached out sun perchance). Much like the work of the Italian producer Donato Dozzy, who  frequently works with sampled noises in the Russolo tradition in combination with transcendent, ambient atmospherics and synths and comes from a long line of sampladelic techno and ambient artists captivated by the power of found sound from the Orb to Objekt/Randomer/Untold etc and their abstract techno experiments. The Orb preferring a summery palette of biplanes and blissed out southern American combine territory evocation, the others punctuating B-movie beats & clang captured on worn out tape with ‘oof’s, ‘huh’s, and ‘wurp’s from humans (‘huh’s are almost my favourite kind of sample, just behind hoovers I think). Donato’s latest album ‘Vaporware’ is a collage of meditative, uplifting soundscapes. Maybe Russolo would have turned his futurist nose up at it for having too many ‘musical’ notes. This is not exactly a sign of lack of quality, he was a bit of a techno fascist, but Donato’s acid workouts would probably have got him going and perfectly capture the steely futurist principles he maintained.

Techno has come along way since Russolo. So what of that?

Techno 2019: Big business.

Techno engages with this temporal acceleration and its enjoyment today can frequently fit into an accelerated and addicted behaviour pattern involving the selfie, the excitement of the first dance, the boshing of a pill, a dab, a snort, a double vodka and redbull in a cup emblazoned with propaganda for a product, the woop, the hands in the air, the spin round and the do it all again. Purists might claim (or they might be too fried or rich now…) that this is far from the Underground Resistance DIY ethic Mike Banks talks about here: There are definite messages there through tonal communication, we are silent and deadly and that’s the best way UR credits announce No hope, no fear, my only hope is underground.  

But what about the discussion I touched upon about the ideological thrust and wanton statements made by the Italian Futurists? If it shares such an affinity with techno musically/ideas wise e.g. Russolo, as I have hopefully demonstrated, what else does it share? Ideology? Let’s see. I went to Londons Tobacco Dock last year to see some big name Techno DJs at an all-day mega techno event. I was met with wall to wall white people (of which I am one) from the same part of England (kind of where I come from originally, not IN London..), but wearing the same clothes, doing the same moves, (I had slightly different clothes, less.. it was a stag do for christ’s sake) completing the same patterns of behaviour as aforementioned and all to a mechanised and violent soundtrack akin to an Italian Futurists dream in an industrial carpark under a relic of slavery and colonial might.

There was joy in the collective thrust and togetherness of this group, marching forward who cares where, but marching, and only in a way that a 4/4 techno beat can make you. Nothing wrong with any of that of course, in fact I was having a whale of a time, but I was getting a sense (or when I thought about the sense that maybe I had got, a few days later, I got the sense) that there was a distinct lack of appreciation of history in this space, both the history of the place, and probably the week that had just occurred, if not the moment just been.. Obliteration of memory seemed to be on the agenda. Being in the now is a desired feature of meditation, but also the pursuit of it through any means necessary could be conducive to an unquestioning state you could call apathy, or just total unadulterated befuddlement. I think it really depends on the quality of the moment you are trying to stay in as to weather being in it is as sacrosanct as some might wish to believe.  Now maybe all this is just a reflection of the current state of Britains 20 somethings and their collective need to rid themselves of a social media induced miasma, but erasure of memory, and history is a distinctly fascistic trope (ya know, book burning n stuff), just saying (having said that Im going back this year). I have to hand it to this generation though for reportedly drinking less, although drugs and techno can still fuck you up kids!

In one sense theres not much mystery to techno like there might be in DnB & Jungle. No questions asked. I think this is the point. As punk also sought to destroy what was there before, techno embodies this in sound. So I suppose it can mirror the full throttle attitude of futurism in this way. Techno probably attracts the far-right as much as punk did in it’s day, with its global reach.. but then again anti war commie rap-metalers Rage Against The Machine (RATM) were used in Iraq war death missions to gee up the US troops into trigger happy killing engines, so most loud/fast music is capable of being appropriated in one way or another.

You could also say communism or any other regime like system of government is alluded towards, so basically this music has militaristic and dictatorial vibes (although turning up wearing a Nazi uniform would probably be taking it too far, and more likely to be done by a royal whilst getting down to Ocean Colour Scenes greatest hits, so the techno scene does still have some decorum). Lose yourself in this heady mixture and you will never need pay the price, it says, although there is always those that do.

Techno pulls from the Futurist Manifesto those parts that the Futurists deemed splendid like speed, noise, mechanised violence, erasure of memory and industrial might and runs with them as its central theme. Its capable of exploring them critically and many forms of techno exist which are reflective/meditative but in its overall musical and cultural essence (cos I have special essence receptors that are 100% accurate, so you know) this is not tantamount to the soul of techno. Maybe other forms of electronic music can perform this particular function a little better? Perhaps DnB and Jungle? Stay tuned to the next chapter to read me scrabble around trying to justify why I think so.

So what have the Futurists ever done for us?

Their radical belief in a modernity in the arts that did away with the muling human soul has its manifestation as techno, whether as critique or exhilarating embrace or both. Russolo laid the foundations for how it would be achieved with his little intervention in the natural order of things and whose ripples still get musos all hot under the collar today. So thanks Futurists, wanton, bonkers desires lie in your initial spirit and however it’s manifested in the last 100 years it lives on in techno. That multifaceted dancing machine that keeps on giving regardless.

 

*A modern day Futurist comes to town this week at Jaeger when Donato Dozzy comes to Jaeger  for another Frædag x Filter Musikk

Album of the Week: Prins Thomas – Ambitions

Writing about a new Prins Thomas LP has become a regular occurrence here at Jaeger over the last two years. He’s found a creative stride in the album format since “Principe Del Norte” as a solo artist and collaborator for Smalltown Supersound. “Ambitions” is his second solo effort and fourth LP for the Oslo based label in the last three years. In between he’s also released 5 (his fifth studio LP) on his own Prins Thomas Musikk imprint or Full Pupp and a string of EPs, remixes and singles, all culminating in one of the most prolific eras for Prins Thomas as an artist since the start of is career.

“Ambitions”, like “Principe Del Norte” absconds from Thomas’ numerically titled LPs and like “Square One” with Bjørn Torske and the LP he made with Bugge Wesseltoft before this one, it veers from the “space disco” sound he’s cultivated through the years. “Ambitions” favours a similar organic approach to those records, a kind of krautrock, pop record that marries Prins Thomas extensive musical dialogue as a DJ with his skilfully precise work as a producer. Everything lately in Prins Thomas’ music seems to be underpinned by some funky bass guitar, bouncing between bongo drums, as synthetic manoeuvres breeze by in free improvised melodic expressions tethered to a whim.

Past the ambient opener of “Ambitions”, we jump right into that sound on “XSB” and from there the album scours the absolute limits of Thomas’ musical abilities as Disco, Funk, House and Synth Wave converge on this LP. It is indeed an ambitious endeavour as Thomas attempts to bring these disparate corners of his musical purview together on the LP. The tracks on “Ambitions” were recorded in isolation and independently from each other in various fleeting circumstances; hotel rooms, airplanes, backstage rooms, patios and studios. It was only when Joakim Haugland from Smalltown Supersound turned his “critical ears” to these works that they started to take shape as an album through Thomas’ distinctive production touch.

It’s an album made up of songs, rather than a defined concept or context and for the listener this creates ephemeral relationships with distant musical universes, that never quite lands on its feet as an album, but like a Prins Thomas DJ set, keeps pulling you off towards a new direction at the turn of each track. Unlike his last LP on Smalltown Supersound, “Principe Del Norte”there are specific moments like “Feel the Love” which seems to be directed for the dance floor, but at the same time there are also those more contemplative moments like the title track and its objective associations.

The resemblances to Prins Thomas’ previous numerical LPs are tenuous, as it was for the previous Smalltown Supersound works, and it seems that the label boss has unearthed, and is nurturing a new side to Prins Thomas’ artistry one that has been embedded in very fertile ground of late.

Accessible Party Music – Profile on Container

“When I started Container I wasn’t consciously trying to make weird music,” Ren Schofield (Container) told Resident Advisor in 2011. “I was actually trying to do a straight-ahead techno project, but… people have been talking about how weird the music is.” On the fringes of Noise, where it crosses over into elements of Techno, is where the music of Container exists. Schofield’s only intention for the project was to make “accessible party music,” but since releasing his debut LP in 2011, the music has been embraced for its “weirdness,” by an audience dancing in the margins of club music and noise music enthusiasts looking for some kind of familiar beat construction in the barrage of distortion and feedback the predicates that genre. In that respect the music of Container is “accessible party music,” if that party were at the gates of hell and we were all dancing to Gabriel’s horn.


Schofield’s music as Container makes no concessions for accessibility in any traditional form through a barrage of incessant drums and a sonic soup of incoherent one-note bass modulations. A profusion of controlled chaos prevails, as scattered elements come together in a cacophonous harmony with specific designs on the dance floor. Container is a centrifuge of unbridled energy, set loose on the very same instruments that prelude Techno’s designs, but converge on the borders of DIY, Punk and Noise, for something more tactile and raw. Since his debut LP, Schofield has gone on to release three more on Spectrum Spools – all simply entitled LP – and a host of EPs and cassettes on labels like Liberation Technologies (Mute), Diagonal and his own I Just Live Here cassette label. His live performances have become the stuff of mythic lore, praised for the visceral energy, coercing static dance floors into movement as non-partisan audiences are compelled forward by the sheer intensity of the music.  

“I now do the same thing I did in noise,” he explained to RA. “It’s the same approach, just a different sound.” Schofield arrived at this interpretation of Techno through an unfamiliar route. Where most artists working in the field perpetuate the rhetoric where a legacy defined by Detroit and Berlin emboldened them to a career in this music, Schofield’s history is more complex than the sum of those parts. Growing up in Providence, Rhode Island in the USA, Schofield’s music career started as “a teenager” about 15 years ago. “I started touring with bands after high school in 2003,” he recalled in an interview with Vice, “and then started focussing mostly on solo stuff in 2007.” In Providence he stepped into a “really cool” music scene, one “based on warehouse venues that change somewhat frequently due to people moving out of town, or getting kicked out of the space.” The setting provided an exciting platform for “like-minded” individuals like Schofield who would thrive in the DIY nature of these venues, which over twenty years became “very ingrained in the musical culture of the city.”

His first solo projects, Age Wave and God Willing embraced this “musical culture,” and aligned itself with the Noise scene that would naturally thrive in this kind of environment. In 2009 he started Container alongside these projects, but “for the first two years it existed, (it) wasn’t something that (he) spent a lot of time on” according to that RA interview. “Once in a while when I’d feel like doing something with beats I would work on it,” but at that time it was “not something that I was taking seriously” he told Jain Pain during an interview in 2013. He only “became more interested in Techno after  playing it for a while” and only then Container would become his “main focus.” This change in direction was inspired in part by Daniel Bell’s (DBX) track, “Losing Control.” Upon hearing the “classic minimal Techno track,” he got it in his “head to do something like that [track] just to see how it would turn out.” He knew he “had the gear to pull it off” and set about creating the same kind of “really minimal, one beat” track, layering some vocals over the top, and through imitation he established his own, more abrasive interpretation of that style of music. “That is how I got into Techno,” he told Jain Pain, but it’s not Techno in any traditional sense of the genre.

With “more and more people” from the noise scene “excited to hear heavy beat stuff rather than just noise” and with Techno’s own modulation between elements of Punk and DIY coming to the fore, Container arrived at a time when these borders would become really blurred. Alongside other American artists like Aurora Halal, Via App, and Unicorn Hard-On (aka Valerie Martino – Schofield’s inamorata), Schofield would help usher in a style of Techno  in the USA that the press eventually would coin Punk Techno. Unicorn Hard-On played a significant role in the “transition from God Willing to Container” according to the RA interview. “Towards the end of God Willing,” Schofield “was incorporating more beats and tape loops” in his music and with a rhythm taking more of a central role it “eventually, it bled into one thing” to become Container.

With Container “everything is composed with live playback in mind” according to the interview in Vice, which sets the project apart from the more traditional adaption of Techno. Container is a live project for Schofield, but at the same time it dissociates itself from the rest of the live, Noise scene as music that is fully composed rather than free improvised. His music arrives through a kind of “trial and error” approach, and by his own account is more “inspired by Rock music than Techno.” His only objective behind the music it seems is to “to play a killer live set” and that’s where that unbridled energy comes from. There are traces of it across all his records, and it’s at its most impressive when experienced in the live context. It’s here where his ideologies part ways with the Techno canon. “Live music for the techno scene seems like an afterthought in a weird way,” he clarifies to Jain Pain. “It isn’t even about playing a show; it is more about getting a party going, which I am not interested in at all.” For Schofield it’s more like a rock concert a performance of music, and ironically approaching it this way, he succeeds in bringing that “party vibe” to the situation as his 2014 Boiler Room performance can attest to.

Schofield’s unusual route towards Techno, has a unique effect on the execution of his music, and sets him apart from those that follow the more traditional route in the genre. He very rarely even listens to Techno outside of the live context, but when he does, it’s usually reserved for music that foregoes the traditional ideologies of the genre. “When I am hanging out at home and I wanna listen to Techno, my favorite thing is this band Frak.”

Like Frak, Schofield feigns the traditional approach to Techno, manipulating the genre’s  sound palette to his own destructive designs and negating the passive, functional purpose of the music for a more assertive position in the context of club music. For the past seven years he’s been refining this sound with his unique twist, and alongside his peers like Unicorn Hard-On, Container has redefined the borders between Noise, Punk, DIY and Techno. It’s music that won’t acquiesce to the homogenous common denominator, pursuing the pure counter-cultural aspects of these musical genres as it swims upstream from everything else around it.

 

*Container plays Gateavisa & Gyldne Sprekk pres: Container (US), live!

The Cut with Filter Musikk

Roland Lifjell has never taken a holiday in his life. The word “holiday” and others like vacation, relax, leave, sojourn, break, trip and tour have no place in his vocabulary. Mention these words to him and a blank stare is all you’ll get as he rifles through virtual record catalogue numbers in his extensive memory bank, searching in vain for any reference to these terms; only ever arriving at some synth pop references from the eighties.

Roland Lifjell doesn’t take holidays and the only time his Filter Musikk might close early or unexpectedly if he’s engaged in that other musical endeavour, DJing. Every aspect of Roland Lifjell’s leisure and professional pursuits is dedicated to the craft of music; electronic music for DJ use, specifically. While most of Oslo went up to a mountain cabin hiding easter eggs on ski tracks, Roland Lifjell was unpacking yet another box for records to adorn the shelves of Filter Musikk, and has given us a sneak peek at some of the new arrivals.

After a short hiatus (unlike Roland, we do know what a holiday is) the Cut with Filter Musikk is back, and Roland gives us first dibs at the latest records to come into the store, and together we select some of the most exciting pieces for this feature. These are not the records that have been hyped or endlessly shoved upon us through incessant “tastemakers” before anybody has even heard a note, this is the music that is here and now, and currently spinning somewhere on a turntable to the delight of some nocturnal revellers.

*Roland Lifjell and Filter Musikk returns to Jaeger next Friday for Frædag x Filter Musikk: Donato Dozzy.

 

Telephones – From The Vaults 1998-2018 Vol 1 (European Carryall) 12″

Telephones digs through his archives in the first release of his newly established label, European Carryall. “From the vaults” is exactly that and in the first in the series we find Telephones complimenting the effervescent House sound that he’s been cultivating as an artist, since 1998 it seems. These previously unreleased pieces find their way out into the world for the first time in remix form where they sound contemporary and relevant to what Telephones has been releasing in recent years.

Since releasing “The Ocean Called” on Running Back, Telephones has only fortified his position as one of the most exciting House artists to emerge out of Norway in recent years. An LP, “Vibe Telemetry” and EPs for Klasse Wrecks and Sex Tags, has cemented his sound as playful melodies, hand percusssion and syncopated beats establish the bedrock from which the producer create alluring dance floor pieces.

“From the vaults” trains all its efforts from the DJ booth, with three stripped-back House tracks with a perfunctory purpose, while retaining that melodic dimension in Telephones’ music. Energetic beat constructions lined with soft, atmospheric pads and upbeat melodies are at play on every track. “Amerikadegåri’s” bell-jar, balearic hook sets it apart from the excessive percussion of “Hurricane,” while “Aquatrack’s” funky bass line bobs up and down on a stream of languid synthesisers and sampled atmosphere.

 

Mystica Tribe – DJ Sotofett’s Dub Ash Mixes (Solar Phenomena) 12″

Sotofett takes on Mystica Tribe with three dub mixes taken from the Tokyo producer’s last EP for Solar Phenomena. Sotofett wrestles the original from its polished exterior, taking the enigmatic beauty of Mystica Tribe’s work and turning it inside out; exposing a raw, fleshy side to the tracks through his processes.

Like the original dub masters of the seventies, Sotofett wields the mixing console like an instrument, imposing his own design and desires on the music, which err on a darker side. The result reveals something sinister edge from the Mystica Tribe originals. As sparse melodic pieces fold in on themselves through delay and heavy bass mutations pulse through the tracks, Sotofett takes the dub method further adding his own, new pieces; new percussive parts and 303 bass lines adding Sotofett’s distinctive voice to the compositions.

The Norwegian producer coaxes another world from just a few basic elements of the original, and arrives at a completely different dimension to his Japanese counterpart, where the serene bliss of the originals are subverted and a brooding kind of glow envelopes all these tracks.

 

Bambounou – Whities 021 (Whities) 12″

There’s new life being channeled into London’s electronic music scene and it’s thanks to Whities. After dubstep there was a severe lull in underground electronic music as artists and producers fell into conformity, chasing a thread to Berlin, Chicago and the past in their music. The experimental nature of Dubstep, and some of the tenants that would follow directly after soon disappeared as most fell into familiar versions of House and Techno, and innovation ceased to exist, but for the last few years, Whities has been revitalising that aspect of this scene.

Familiar names like Tessela, Overmono, Avalon Emerson and Kowton have contributed to some 30 records for the label alongside new talents like Giant Swan and Lanark Artefax. For the lastest release however Whities has turned to a stalwart of the post-dubstep London scene, Bambounou.

One of the original innovators, Bambounou has been making left-field club music since 2010, releasing records for labels like 50 Weapons. He joins the Whities catalogue for the first time as they turn 21, with three tracks that will test the limits of the listener’s perseverance. Referred to in some respects as rhythmical noise, Whities 021 roams the outer edges of dance floor conventions for a more cognitive, experimental approach to electronic music.

“Seize-Sept” is the closest we get to familiar club music, but even that track with its stammering kick and wayward synthetic textures hardly speaks to a common denominator on the dance floor. With a minimalist’s touch, Bambounou tests the limits of metre and time in three polyrhythmic constructions. Melody is contained in the percussive element as synthetic chatter pads the space between the melée of percussive parts. It’s a record for the more adventurous DJ, or discerning electronic music enthusiast but played at the right moment, it will undoubtedly have staggering effects.

 

999999999 – 000000005 (NineTimesNine) 12″

It was only a few weeks back that we first caught sight of Techno outfit 999999999, and now we can’t get enough of them. Rave Reworks introduced us to the anonymous Techno outfit in no uncertain terms as they crashed into our purview with an onslaught of hoovers and stabbing keys that harked back to the elusive energy of rave music’s early days.

On the follow up to that record and the fifth release on their NineTimesNine imprint, they retain that level of energy as 303 bass lines weave their way through excessive kick drums punching holes in muggy, noisy atmospheres. 999999999 siphon a little from the past into their work through the familiar soundscapes they perpetuate on this release, but place it in a contemporary dialect as minimalist constructions and a simplified rhythmic- and melodic patterns prevail.

They retain an imprudent energy on 000000005 beyond the excessive tempos; something immediate that will either force you into the music, or scare you away. “0000000006” is a personal favourite with elements of EBM and Acid, retrofitted for a post-apocalyptic musical future.

 

DJ Sports – Akrasia (Help) 12″

When DJ Sports played at Jaeger a while back, he gave us an exclusive taste of the direction future works will go. Ending his set on the break-beat jungle track that would become “Adaption”, it was an exciting development in the course of the night and one that stayed with us since.

On the latest record, for he and brother Central’s, Help Recordings, he perpetuates the vibe of the previous EP, in a break-beat, jungle-ish track and a couple of remixes. “Akrasia” is a progressive track with many peaks and troughs cultivating different moods throughout its 9 minutes. Ambient textures and dub melodies set a serene tone for the track before it explodes into ratcheting break-beats. No, one element dominates the other, and in it DJ Sports finds an unstable equilibrium where the unrestrained energy of the percussion is somewhat subdued by the half-time bass figures and languid melodic- and harmonic textures.  

Since 2017’s Modern Species, it’s a sound that DJ Sports has perpetuated in the studio, putting the young producer, truly in a class of his own. While many of his contemporaries will often tap into the same all-inclusive musical constructions as they pivot around trends, in DJ Sports’ music it appears to come from somewhere less calculated position in a more refined approach to various genres.

 

Robag Wruhme -Venq Tolep

Hear the title tracks from Robag Wruhme’s first LP in eight years, Venq Tolep.

Robag Wruhme is back on Pampa Recordings with his first LP since 2011’s Thora Vukk. Venq Tolep was eight years in the making with some of the tracks on the LP going back to 2011, and the most recent created in 2019. The German artist apparently skirts the borders between pop music and the dance floor on this release as “Wruhme creates something even more extraordinary: the album may speak the language of club music, with seemingly familiar soundscapes, layers and arrangements, but the tracks on Venq Tolep boldly verge on feeling like songs.”

The title track is available to stream right now via all platforms, setting a relaxed an contemplative tone in Wruhme’s distinctly minimalist House style. Soft keys and listless beat-arrangements lap up against the fringes of House music, with a pronounced melodic arrangement engaging the listener on both a superficial and deeper level. The album is out on the 6th of June and you can catch Robag Wruhme at Jaeger this Friday for Frædag with g-HA & Olanskii.

 

What have The Futurists ever done for us?

What have the futurists ever done for us? Well, they might have invented Techno. Ross Bicknell writes about how an early 20th century art movement might have influenced, or at least in some part inspired today’s club music.

1. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece.

2.Time and space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.

3.We will glorify war,.. the world’s only hygiene.

4.Destroy the museums, fight moralism, feminism, ..utilitarian cowardice.

5.Sing the vibrant nightly fervour of arsenals and shipyards blazing, bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives.

These are a few choice slices from the 11 point manifesto of The Futurists, an Italian art cultural movement lead by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. These excerpts were printed on the front page of a popular French newspaper, Le Figaro in 1909 and caused a bit of a stir. They barely even printed political party manifestos back then, let alone the ramblings of artists, so this might point towards what a big deal they were considered to be.

Marinetti & the Futurists flirted with Fascism. He was ideologically opposed to the Marxist idea of class struggle and was elected to the Fascist party’s Central Committee in 1919 after Italy’s disastrous and humiliating part in WW1 representing the Allies. Mussolini had a great admiration for Futurism and Futurists paid him back by engaging in propaganda and violence in his name.

So why discuss these fascistic, war hungry rent-a-mob? What have they ever done for us, and what have they got to do with electronic music as we know it?

It’s because their belief in and celebration of mechanised society e.g. boats, trains, plains, modern agriculture, motorways, telephones and the city being a force for positive change. The Futurists believed that these trappings were a force for speeding up time and signalling a new, more desirable consciousness that did away with the ‘pensive immobility, ecstasy and sleep’ of previous generations and their literature and art. Instead they intended to ‘exalt aggressive action, a feverish insomnia, the racers stride,.. the punch and slap’. I think they got their way and very tiring it is too being part of it all. (I’m old now). Ok it’s exciting too. The undoubtable celebration of speed, volume and power as progress in society throughout the 20th century has its many echoes in arts, music and culture, from 5.1 cinema sound-systems allowing an attack helicopter’s missile to whizz about the room and detonate at the base of your spine, to electric guitar solos crackling through a speaker stack hanging from a 200 metre high scaffolding in a mega-arena, to industrial samples and distorted Hoover bass lines shaking the floor of nightclubs across the world and being simultaneously broadcast onto millions of pocket digital devices.

We can take the pre-internet days of the early 1990s as the land before time sped up exponentially, it had an impact rather like the effect of the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 and pretty much the same year (woah…) The Industrial revolution, especially trains, had the same seismic effect. Futurists sought to celebrate a move beyond art being about communities loosely based around farming, so to keep up basically.  Such ye olde existences have been celebrated/revisited by various art/music movements (think Dylan, folk revival, ambient, minimalism) in a distinctly non-futurist manner throughout the 20th century in music. It took a while for the musos to catch up. The idea of the past as slower, more spiritual, humane place or time still underpins many a political belief or music preference. William Blake’s Dark Satanic Mills referred to an almost Mordor-like future brought about by industrial destruction of the past/nature. Plagues, volcanoes, floods, cats and dogs living together, you know the score. Biblical shit.

These have all come to fruition in our collective consciousness in the 20th century, as has the Futurist’s wish/premonition of mechanised war. The relatively fragile human body in which we are still irritatingly encased (for some, take note 2046 transhumanists, the super-rich wannabe cyborg immortals. https://youtu.be/vqkddbl1HCY) has had a fair few knocks in this period and been subjected to the horror machines can elicit. The Futurists were well up for this and it seems humans have an increased need to engage in this dance with the machines that can seriously fuck them up but also I guess make things work well with central heating and stuff.

So let’s get back to the question, what have the Futurists ever done for us?

Erm, they channelled the excitement of the times? Ok, ok, yes, yes, I suppose I can’t argue with that. But what else?

Erm.. One may argue that they invented the aesthetic of what was to become the future? Ok clever clogs, I accept that this may be partly true in an ideological sense, but in pure aesthetic terms it would have to be shared in no small part by writers of popular science fiction and their book cover designers. Ha.

They invented the future, period. Erm, you’ve lost me, but perhaps in terms of music you might have a point… But what have the futurists ever really done for us? They invented Techno? Oh right, yeah that is pretty good.

In his piece, The Art Of Noises: Futurist manifesto (1913), Luigi Russolo concludes that futurist musicians should substitute for the limited variety of timbres that the orchestra possess, the infinite variety of timbres in noises, reproduced with appropriate mechanisms. He identifies 6 families of noises. Among these are crashes/thunderings, whistling/hissing, murmurs/whispers, screeching/creaking, bangs on metal/wood, voices/shouts/noises of animals and people. He sees this as an antidote to orchestral music. ‘Do you know of a more ridiculous site than that of 20 men striving to redouble the mullings of a violin?,..let us drink in, from beat to beat, these few qualities of obvious tedium, of monotonous impressions and cretinous religious emotion of the Buddhalike listeners, drunk with repeating for the thousandth time their more or less acquired and snobbish ecstasy. Away!’ So it’s fair to say he wasn’t a fan of classical music.

To be honest the idea of working mechanisation into music was a not a huge leap of the human imagination (if such a thing is ever actually possible, discuss). It was underway in other artworks, but nobody had done it, or at least written about doing it, in 1913. He created an instrument to demonstrate how it would come into use, a mechanised noise box, which used sounds of industry and those mentioned above to create musical works. It was about the abandonment of the 12 note scale completely and the pursuit of a music which featured the organisation of different timbres above all else (sound like anything we’ve heard?) These timbres were evocative of the industrial age, and a brand new future, as digital blips, beeps, shash and industrial sounds were to evoke the coming age of the technosphere for techno artists. There are few surviving recordings of this machine sadly but musicians who it has been claimed are directly inspired include Pierre Schaeffer and other Musique concrete artists, and also Stockhausen. The lineage is also clear to see throughout the 1900s as John Cage questions what constitutes music still further by releasing ‘4.33’ and leads into the minimalists Steve Reich and Philip Glass et al. Their stripped down build the house brick by brick/take it down again musical experiments and works contain blueprints for electronic music as we know it. Fast forward a few decades and you can hear their influence in Derek May’s Strings of Life from 1998, Orbital’s Kein Trink Wasser (1994) and many others.  

In my mind the most intense characterisation of the Futurist’s overall ideological aesthetic thrust is techno, which came into being in the 80s in Detroit (via Germany and New York also). A key figure and member of one of Techno’s founding labels Underground Resistance, Jeff Mills, has explicitly said that it was meant to be a futurist statement. Techno differs from the fascinations of Industrial music, in that the futurist philosophical standpoint is highlighted. Also the commitment to Russolo’s and the Futurist’s wider ideas like the romance of speed and mechanised violence seems more absolute. Techno was an unspoken decision, a manifesto if you will, with disciplines and rules that must be broken as well as those that must be kept to. Either inadvertently or directly, the reference to the futurists is unavoidable. Jeff Mills in fact cites Alvin Toffler’s book, The 3rd Wave, a futurist treatise from 1980, by which time futurism was a genre or a thing, and much had been published in connection with the term. Toffler describes a high-speed revolution, much like the Italian Futurists did, but he describes the subsequent one, which I guess we can call the digital revolution. In Toffler’s preface he wishes to make clear that he does not wish to dwell on the costs of change, but emphasises the costs of not changing. His previous book Future Shock focuses on the former. Tellingly Techno chose to cite the latter perspective. I’m afraid that’s it for references to the book Jeff Mills actually cited. Complain all you like, I don’t care, that’s it, final. I’m sticking to the Italians.

So is techno a true futurist statement? And what does that mean? Pure techno’s seminal tracks share playful experimentation with a commitment to a sparse, driving, industrial aesthetic which restricts itself to infinitesimal change alongside a framework of a constant musical trope. This is the high-energy kick drum/hi-hat combo, which categorises a large degree of dance music. It requires a certain level of commitment to listen/dance to when at the speeds featured in techno (usually around 127-140 bpm) and with its mechanised timbre. It asks listeners to embrace the energy and come along for the ride, rewarding with the satisfaction of noting the episodic or gradual affectation of the synth/sample/beat/percussion elements that circle around its central structure. The high pace seems to remove the desire to look back at what has just been, as there is rarely a chance to do so, the experience being pretty intense. You are being urged forward and it is taking energy to stay focused and inside the box, a bit like a sport. If you do keep up with every mini event and stay for the increasingly frequent culminations of events and energy, then a feeling of cerebral and corporeal oneness with this hyped energy is one of your rewards. At the heart of techno (if thy tin man hath a heart..?) I see an indifference to and thus a rejection of, well what,..hmmm, I’ll have a go.. 1. Melody = soul. 2. Chord structure = romance and 3. Pining lyricism = individualism. In this re-prioritising of the sanctity of the individual in the musical experiences involving techno lays some parallels with the Futurist’s train of thought. Mechanical brutality is romanticised (ironically) as bodily fragility is scorned and cast aside, a member of the collective can suffer and die.

And there are some literal interpretations too: Marinetti for instance even has a rant about being in a car and how damn sexy it is to nearly die as it crashes into a ditch. ‘Maternal ditch, almost full of muddy water! Fair factory drain! I gulped down your nourishing sludge..’ Ha ha. It’s easy to laugh, and I hope you do… but I don’t remember laughing much reading JG Ballard’s 1973 update on the theme Crash, with the pokey early 1900s language replaced by cold psychosexual prose fusing arousal, death and violent injury together in a tempestuous and seductive gridlock of depravity. Ballard narrated futurisms with an eye colder than that of the Futurists; the dispassionate observer nevertheless needed a whiskey every hour, on the hour to hone a numbed effect enabling him to write it. He had lived through WW2; the Futurists hadn’t, by the time the manifesto came out anyway.

Gary Numan managed to have a bit more fun with the same subject matter in his techno-pop smash-hit, Cars (1979). You can hear the echoes of Ballard and thus Marinetti in recent releases such as those by many EBM artists, Silent Servant and Broken English Club’s ‘Wreck’. It’s safe to say that unlike ‘Cars’ this will not be a pop smash hit. There’s a video for this song which features disaster-porn like footage of the coralised remains of the Titanic which itself was a Futurist’s wet dream. You can indeed see that it is very wet, but more like a nightmare, mischievously glamorised by the saturated neon pink and yellow filters that have been applied with sloppy, liberal glee…

 

To be continued

Eight hours of progwave with Jono El Grande

Progwave was an elusive subgenre, an unusual hybrid of progressive rock and New Wave that is little more than a sidebar in the popular music lexicon. Very little has ever been documented about this strange concoction of a genre, and I couldn’t tell you which bands were active during  what era and what exactly constitutes the genre, so we had to call in an expert.

Jono El Grande (Jon Andreas Håtun) lives and breathes all things music and when it comes to Prog Rock he is an authority. He is an artist, musician and conductor, and has released six LPs between 1999 and the present with his group Jono El Grande and his luxury band.

Born in the era of peak Prog Rock, a conceptual theme follows Jono El Grande in every thing he approaches and when he and Eirik Usterud (Beatie Joyce) came together to conceive a night for Den Gyldne Sprekk in April, true to history a theme followed. They fell on progwave (or progveiv) and while Beastie Joyce gave us some insight into the genre last week on the blog, there is still much left to be uncovered of this very niche genre.

While Eirik was a little unsure if he’d have enough music in that category for the entire, Jono told us “till now, I have collected about 8 hours of music,” encouraging us to ask the Norwegian artist more questions. What is progwave, who made it and where did it go? We pose these questions to Jono El Grande ahead of Progveiv this Tuesday at Den Gyldne Sprekk.

How would you describe progwave?

Prog-wave makes a fine line with different approaches, all around late 70’s to early 80’s; you have progressive bands toying with new wave on one side, and new-wave bands touching progressive/experimental structures and sounds on the other. A third path, the most unclear, is rock / semi-progressive artists in free artistic flow who happened to create something within the same style, all on purpose or accidentally, I don’t know.

Typical of the first batch, I say, is the around-1980-stuff by bands like Camel, Alan Parsons Project, Yes, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Rush, CAN and Jethro Tull.

The second, is represented by some songs – not entire albums – by bands like DEVO, Yello, Art Of Noise, Godley & Creme, Kraftwerk, The Stranglers, Pere Ubu, Talking Heads and Wall Of Voodoo.

In the third understanding, you also find just a few songs, from artists such as ELO, 10cc, Roxy Music, Jefferson Starship, Toto, Peter Gabriel, Manfred Manns’s Earth Band, David Bowie and Violent Femmes.

And in between all these, I may squeeze in some Arthur Brown, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. And even some of my own, brand new unheard compositions.

What do you think encouraged artists to explore this field  of music, was just the advent of affordable synthesizers?

In my opinion, music genres evolve somewhat like species according to Darwin; they’re born as a result of a movement in society – small or big – and tend to survive if the culture around it is alive and growing. First it is revolutionary, then it becomes tradition. In this movement Sub genres are often dependent on the main genre’s growth, unless they creates their own (fan) culture and evolve further on as a separate genre.

New technology meeting culture is always a factor for growth, and synthesizers became essential for the rise progwave, I think, yes. But it was also important that the bands were forced by their record companies to be more accessible towards a larger audience, which also evolved the genre.

Why was it so short-lived?

Prog wave was merely just a sub genre, probably more a bastard – a hybrid of prog and new wave – like a mule. And as we know, mules can’t reproduce. Later, a few bands evolved into pop, like Genesis, but those bands didn’t survive artistically for long either.

At the same time, the main prog genre was evolving into the ugly, yet vital, Neo prog, eating prog wave out of existence.

Also, it seemed that krautrock was more naturally evolving into quite the same sound as prog wave, yet it was surviving more or less by being krautrock.

You say brand new unheard compositions of your own earlier And I’ve noticed artists like Shackleton making progressive music from electronic club elements today. Is it having a revival?

Maybe, but music and artists making music in every genre or subgenre has become overflowing and swarming like a goddamn huge colony of bees. Who can tell if there is a new movement going on in there or just a flicker?

Anyway – I will personally break a sweat to conjure up a revival, and play some new compositions of my own. One of them is so fresh it is still warm.

Can you tell me something of your history with the music, and what were some of the records or artists that first got you into progwave?

First of all, progressive rock and avantgarde has interested me since I discovered it when I was 13 (1986); Zappa & early eras of Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Genesis – some years later King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Beefheart.

I realized soon that the whole catalogue of these artists and others in the same genre was not accepted at parties, so I always tried to make mix tapes with the stuff that in a way unified the progressive heads and the more mainstream rock and pop listeners in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Over the years, I see that ‘prog wave’ as a term that pigeonholed this kind of music well, even though some of the songs that I put in that box is not part of the particular prog wave «movement» in the late 70s/early 80s.

I still enjoy sneaking my own playlists into bars or restaurants (St Lars has one of them).

As you see, there wasn’t any album that got me into progwave, it has just evolved from my natural way of socializing with music.

On the other hand, I believe that the first record to be released that may fit best into the progwave classification, is Alan Parsons Project’s «I Robot» from 1977.

When I spoke Eirik about what he’ll be playing it, he suggested that you might not be able to make a whole evening out of progwave alone. Are you of the same opinion and where do you think your set will modulate to on the evening?

For this evening, I have collected about 8 hours of music – some pure progwave, some no wave, some newwave-ish prog, some prog-ish new wave and some songs that are just damn good.

A lot of prog music artists actually had a lot of success with pop music after prog rock became something of a dirty word especially after the rise of Punk. Is that as a direct result of progwave?

A result of selling out, and dying a slow death afterwards. Progwave may have functioned as an accidental stepping stone for that process, for some of the bands.

And do you see any other strands of the genre exists today because of that fleeting existence?

If so, it has changed so much over the years you may not be able to recognize it. Bands today are influenced by so many sources, so it is hard to specify.

And some artists sound like they are influenced without knowing it. A contemporary group like Superorganism, may sound like a millennial version of prog wave, but I doubt they have ever thought about that.

(I remember music journalists around the world wrote about my Magma influences on my album Neo Dada (which celebrates 10 years these days), and actually – that was how I discovered them. Haha.)

 

*You can find out more about Jono El Grande on his website, jonoelgrande.com.

 

 

Album of the Week: Roman Flügel – Themes

Roman Flügel is a musical polymath. His musical catalogue is as diverse as the electronic music landscape and since the mid- nineties he’s been crafting singular electronic music through various aliases and projects, music that is revered by peers and music heads alike, regardless of genre or style. In recent years most of his artistic endeavours have been channeled through his eponymous artistic alias, and many of them have been reserved for the album format, where he is able indulge some kind of abstract, conceptual framework in creating a definitive artistic document.

After some concerted efforts, mostly for Dial the Frankfurt native crosses the Atlantic for ESP institute and his latest LP, Themes. ESP Institute says of the LP: Roman Flügel’s “framing of musical narratives as sketches, outlines, or skeletons where the listener’s perception compliments the whole, or his notion that sometimes stories might not need a clear articulation but might only come through in hints of mood, pace, and color, a language which doesn’t rely on words to communicate but which paints for us in Themes.”  

The album finds Roman Flügel sitting at his arsenal of synthesisers extrapolating musical ideas directly from his mind to the keys in fleeting melodic pieces that drift between consciousness and reverie. Happy melodies bounce across synthesisers on languid rhythm structures that only barely break into a trot at times as Flügel stakes his claim in the tepid waters of ambient music.

There’s something instinctively maternal about Themes as soft congenial melodic arrangements play amongst more experimental  textures that seem to come in and out of the individual pieces on a whim. There’s an intimacy to this LP that even with the more alien aspects of their construction, only draws the listener closer to the music. Flügel uses a minimalist’s ear, with a few very succinct elements constituting these tracks.

Some of these pieces, pieces like “X can often get lost in their own little moment, never really progressing to any specific destination, while others like “IV” almost appear as fully-formed pieces. They are just themes however, impromptu pieces from Roman Flügel living in their own little moment, devoid of any grander aspirations. If this is the calibre of music, Roman Flügel  makes in extemporising circumstances, it puts onto perspective just what a prolific artist he is. While they might just be themes, many of them can be considered fully-fledged compositions too.

Filling the crack: Beastie Joyce and Jørgen Egeland’s Den Gyldne Sprekk takeover

Eirik Usterud aka Beastie Joyce and one half of Trist Pike is by his own account “probably one of the only DJs in Oslo that doesn’t own any House records.” Instead his musical purview extends beyond and includes everything else. He’s found a kindred spirit in Jørgen Egeland in that regard and the two have been regular fixtures at Raymond T. Hauger’s Den Gyldne Sprekk since its inauguration in 2016. Jorgen Egeland is something of an honorary resident today and Beastie Joyce either in the booth or performing as one half of Trist Pike, is a regular fixture at Raymond’s weekly Tuesdaynight.

Eirik has modulated from the stage to the booth consistently in Den Gyldne Sprekk’s history at Jaeger, often sharing the booth with his musical counterpart and music quiz partner Jørgen Egeland. Like Eirik, Jørgen’s musical knowledge spans far and wide with a very acute and knowledgeable dedication to all things Jazz. Unlike Eirik, he’ll often have a few House cuts floating around in his bag, which leaves very little left to uncover through music between their combined record library.

So, when Raymond needed to take a short break from his concept to pursue whatever wild, fantastical leisure activity he pursues, there was only ever going to be one option when it came to a worthy substitute for his weekly residency. Beastie Joyce and Jørgen Egeland take over Den Gyldne Sprekk in April, with four unique concepts during the month. From Progwave to Cyberpunks, together with Raymond, Eirik and Jorgen have lined up a musical month of Tuesdays at Jaeger that dig through the obscure and often bizarre corners of their combined musical scope.

We sat down with Eirik as Beastie Joyce to discuss these concepts and his and Jørgen’s vision for Den Gyldne Sprekk in the month of April.

Where does the name Beastie Joyce comes from?

It’s my Twitter name. In other occasions I’ve been phasing it out in favour of a new alias, but my Twitter account is quite popular so I don’t think I’m ever going to get rid of that name. It’s Just an amalgamation of Beastie Boys and James Joyce, of course.

So you’ll be filling the crack?

Yes, me and Jørgen (Egeland).

You have both been involved with Den Gyldne Sprekk and Raymond T Hauger in one way or another.

Yes. I think we have both appeared here as guests occasionally almost since the very beginning.

Yes for a while there we were calling your band Trist Pike, Jaeger’s first and only in house band.

Yeah we’ve played there a lot including our first gig ever.

Why are you and Jorgen taking over the concept in April?

Raymond needed some time off, and it was natural to ask someone who has always been involved, and someone that has a very solid grasp on the concept and the type of music that is in focus here.

So it will just be a continuation of the concept, or will you bring something different to the table?

We are bringing in our own ideas, which Raymond has been involved with as well and I think we came up with some really great concepts for what we’re going to do those four weeks.

It does seem that Raymond has a very clear vision of what he wants to achieve each week for DGS.

Exactly and the guests are quite often involved in how it ends up. It is kind of cohesive even though there is quite a lot of different music involved.

I always love the titles for the events, and one that stuck out in April is called Progeveiv. What is that all about?

It’s all about this progrock and new wave crossover, which was this very short-lived trend that every single Prog Rock band jumped on in the early eighties. I thought that was really interesting and got talking with Jono El Grande, who is obsessively knowledgeable about Prog Rock in general, so obviously he knew a lot about this stuff and I realised it would be really fun to make that a theme night here.

It seems like a very niche thing. Is there enough records out there to make it a night?

I have a lot of those records, and there are a lot of single songs you can find, and a couple of complicated cuts from some new wave records. We’ll probably not be able to fill a whole night with just that, so we’re gonna broaden the definition a little bit.

I suppose you can also go into either standard Progressive Rock or New Wave from there too which opens up the landscape a little.

Exactly.

What sort of records were you thinking of bringing?

Eighties King Crimson, that’s the big one, and also the Talking Heads albums that the King Crimson guys were involved in. Also the more complex Devo stuff. Yes dabbled in that kind of stuff and Rush also when they started using synthesisers.

And tell me a bit about the other concepts?

In the Easter week, we’re going to do religious music and we got in Raymond’s good friend, Louis from Beglomeg, because he knows a lot about christian Rock and Funk, and that kind of stuff. We’re not going to be doing strictly christian music, it’s going to be religious or religious sounding music in general and of course music about the devil; so I’m going to bring some Dark Throne and Morbid Angel. When it comes to religiously themed music I have a better grasp on stuff when it comes to the devil.

And there’s the night with Silje Hulleboer?

Yes it’s just her and Jørgen. They were talking one day and they found they had a lot of interesting overlaps in their musical tastes.

Then there’s one more event…

The last one will be a celebration of Billy Idol’s cyberpunk album. That is going to be an interesting one. We were talking about it behind the scenes and there is no particular occasion we’re celebrating, we’re just celebrating that the album exists. The idea is that we are going to play that album in its entirety on CD, but I mean it’s seventy minutes long and very stupid, so I’m not sure how commited we are to that, we are going to be playing dated nineties electronic and synth based music that sounded very futuristic when it was new and very dated now.

Something like that David Bowie album he made with Nine Inch Nails?

O yeah, damn I haven’t really thought about that. I have at least one of his nineties albums so I’ll have to investigate further.

Those are spectacularly dated now.

The one “Outside,” that’s kind of cool but it couldn’t have been made at any other time.

Are Babylon Zoo always relevant in that context.

Absolutely, it’s that aesthetic from the Levi’s commercial with that song, that we’re nodding to; early nineties CGI and that kind of stuff.

Tell me a bit about your relationship with Jørgen.

I don’t remember how we first met, but we really started to get to know each other when we started going to a music pub quiz at O’Reilly’s on Fridays. He has an insanely wide taste and a deep knowledge of music.

Where do you think your tastes converge or crossover?

Lots of places, because we’re both into Metal, Punk Rock, Jazz, Rock n Roll and Indie. We have a lot in common, but he’s way more into electronic stuff than I am, and I like Jazz, but he really likes Jazz.

And there’s not going to be a Trist Pike concert during this takeover?

No, I think it would be too much of a hassle to put on a concert at this particular time, but maybe sometime in the future. Also Trist Pike have played here so many times, I can’t even remember how many shows we played here.

So if you were to sum up the takeover in three words for us what would it be?

I guess the easy answer is Rock and Roll. I think we’re going to deliver what we usually get here with our own twist on it.

Jaeger’s stage confirmed at Kala Festival

Our partnership with Kala festival has produced a stage in 2019. We have just confirmed Jaeger’s stage at this year’s festival with Bjorn Tørske, Prins Thomas, Øyvind Morken and Olanskii completing the lineup for the weekend of the event.  Taking place on Albania’s Riviera around the coastal village of Dhërmi, Kala is nestled in the heart of Albania’s picturesque coastline, between  azure waters, ancient castles, canyons, pirates’ caves and bunkers.

Now in its second year, Kala Festival will play host to some of the most exciting selectors including Honey Dijon, Midland, Theo Parrish and Hunee.  Jaeger is very excited to be joining the lineup on the 12th of June, hosting our own stage in one of the most idyllic little music settings on the calendar year.

Before we set course for the azure shires of Albania, Kala’s AKA Juan & Ollie Shapiro will join us at Jæger on the 4th of May for a pre-emptive shimmy as they do their rounds around the world, collecting the DJs playing at this year’s festival. There are less than 300 tickets available, and you can get them directly from Kala’s website. See you all on the beach on the 12th of June.

 

Random consistency: Profile on Axel Boman

Random consistency seems to be Axel Boman’s calling card. The Swedish producer and DJ has had a colourful musical career, one that has seen him touch on elements encompassing the widest spectrum of musical influences from American Soul to European House, channeled in an autocratic musical taste that span his DJ sets, productions and the label he runs with Kornél Kóvacs and Petter Nordkvist. With a flippant, jocular approach to music, Axel Boman continues to skirt the fringes of House music with affable productions and sets that communicate a sincere, serious musical talent.

Although Axel Boman had released his first records back in 2008 through a brief tenure with the little known label Ourvision, it was “Holy Love” released on DJ Koze’s Pampa Recordings and especially the track “Purple Drank” that established Axel Boman’s musical career. The release came about in true Boman fashion when “he gave DJ Koze a demo at a post-show party before puking out of the hotel window” according to a Red Bull Music Academy interview.   

It was quickly picked up by the music media, launching the Axel Boman name into popular consciousness. “From the dubby breakdown to the long arc of the whole track, it’s a trip, and surprisingly forceful given its soft sounds and slow tempo,” wrote Philip Sherburne for Resident Advisor in his 4.0 out 5 review of this release at the time. Boman’s deep, but energetic inclinations struck a chord with DJs, but it would be his distinct love of melodies that would eventually make him a crossover success.

Axel Boman has divulged little in the past about his early life, besides that maybe his father was a plumber, and that the Orb’s Little fluffy clouds was “essential” listening growing up, but it is common knowledge that a budding career in music became apparent during his art academy days in Gothenburg. “It was just a good ground to try stuff out,” Boman told EBTV in an interview. The five years masters program was just a little surreal. It comprised of a studio where Boman could indulge his wildest creative fancies and required little more than a monthly check-in with a supervisor. The only premise was that he create something and with music constituting some of his creative endeavours at that time, he was constantly experimenting with this discipline during his academic years. “It was just weird and fun” remembers Boman about those early pieces, and something of that element of fun followed Boman’s into his professional career.

“(B)ut I don’t want it to seem that I’m not serious, because I’m totally devoted,” he told DJ Mag interview in 2014. Although he approaches music with a self-effacing tongue in cheek  fashion, there’s nothing absurd about the results. And that extends to the label, Studio Barnhus too. “People are always looking for some twist, or a hidden prank,” he told Red Bull Music Academy. “Sometimes people label us as being funny or prankish, but we’re totally serious: We love this music! We don’t devote that much time and effort towards elaborate jokes.” The label started in 2010 out of a small studio in Stockholm with Nordkvist and Kóvacs. “The initial motivation was just to release some great songs,” he told the Mancunian and with early releases extending out from the inner circle to kindred spirits like HNNY and Jesper Dahlbäck, the label quickly started “growing by itself” to the position it occupies today as one of the most sought after House labels in Europe, with some exceptional examples of  Axel Boman’s own productions. 

Starting from the middle and working outwards, Boman’s tracks have an integral accessibility with definitive melodic- or vocal hooks giving his House constructions an approachable and self-possessed voice. “Most tracks have an essence then you build around it,” he told Resident Advisor in 2013. Entrancing melodies have always been a vital aspect to his music. “I’m just a sucker for melodies” he told EBTV, and in a Ransom Note interview he divulged that he thinks this  “works to my advantage, because whereas some people are always looking for the hook that fits a track I can just experiment with different samples and ideas until something clicks.”

In 2013 this all found its rightful place on the album format as he released his debut and only LP under his given name. “Family Vacation” was constructed around an abstract idea, taken from a fictional story written by a friend. “It’s a murder mystery, in a way,” Boman explained in RBMA with a fictional tome written around the infamous, real-life murder of the soul singer, Sam Cooke.

Family Vacation proved an artist that can go beyond floor and the perfunctory beat. “Not a lot of tracks for me have to start with a kick” he explained in RA about the making of the album. “Did you care about the dance floor when you were writing the album?” asked RA’s Kristan Caryl. “I tried to, always, but I’m bad at it and if I do it I get a wave of self-hate. I can set my mind on doing some techno, pumping 4/4, but I always end up somewhere completely different.” Axel Boman’s extensive musical palette has always played a role in his music, and he’s always displayed an innate ability to feed some accessible pop element into his very serious dance floor music.

It’s something that other Swedish artists like Varg also emulate, but whether that’s a Swedish thing or just the open-ended listening habits in the era of the internet is something up for debate, but it’s clear that Boman has never been one to confine his music to one small area in the vast expanse of modern music history. At the end of Family Vacation, Boman came to the conclusion in a DJ Mag Interview that; “I needed to have some closure with this computer and this hard drive and all these gadgets that I’ve been working on so long, so they kind of helped me to reach that point. Now I’m ready to throw that out the window and start all over with the guitar.”


Since then he’s split his efforts between many side projects like the John Talabot collaboration, Talaboman and Man Tear, a post-pop project he does with label mate Petter Nordkvist. Man Tear is Boman and Nordkvist indulging their pop sensibilities with the sonic template of House music. Boman’s desire to work outside if the club music cannon and flex “different muscles in the brain” sees him constantly experimenting with different elements in music and according to his EBTV interview that activity is only set to increase in the future.   

“I listen to lots of music so get lots of inspiration,” he told RBMA, and in the very same breath he also explained that all his music is “always” focussed on the club floor. The trajectory might not always correspond to the initial idea but the purpose of his music is always to get people dancing and from his various musical projects, his LP to his EPs and singles, it’s that unflinching consistency that makes Axel Boman’s work such a favourite on various dance floors, even if the results are often quite random

*Axel Boman plays Frædag this week with Strangefruit, g-HA & Olasnkii and Olefonken.

Album of the Week: Fabric presents Bonobo DJ mix

The grooves on our Bonobo records have been worn smooth by our bar staff over the last two years. Bonobo is an in-house favourite and “The NorthBorders” and “Migration” are records that you’ll continually hear, oozing out of our Cafe’s front door in the middle of the day and spilling into the early evening. I’ve personally heard “Bambro Koyo Ganda” from his second LP “Migration” so many times that I can sing it from memory, which is impressive since I’ve never even been to Morocco, and can’t understand a word Innov Gnawa is signing on the track. But that is the charm of Bonobo’s music.

It can extend over both physical and musical borders, with an elusive charm that feigns categorisation. Elements of Downbeat, House, Electronica and Indie Pop, form the extensive bedrock from which Bonobo creates enticing musical landscapes with attainable access points from various musical perspectives. The English artist makes the kind of records that are perfectly suited for those uncertain moments, when you need to bridge a gap in a crowd through music. Through immersive melodies and dense atmospheres he crafts singular pieces that can be enjoyed at a superficial level, but also leaves something to be explored if you want to experience something a little deeper.

This is consistent of his latest release too, which is not an LP of new original material, but rather a mix. Fabric lured the producer over to the DJ booth, for the first mix in their new  format after closing out the Fabric live chapter. It’s the first recorded mix from the artost since 2013’s late night tales. Bonobo strings together a selection of tracks from the likes of DJ Seinfeld, Throwing Snow, Âme, and Dark Sky, with audible whispers of his artistic voice coming to the fore within the grand narrative of the mix. Whereas his own music has mere fleeting encounters with the dance floor, this Fabric mix, is committed to the dance floor, especially during peak time.

Bonobo’s penchant for melodies add his personal artistic touch, elevating the music beyond the rudiments of DJ tools and drawing comparisons with Trance. There’s an uplifting element to the mix  where it can move beyond the doors of Fabric and into any context like… oh I don’t know… a bar in Oslo? Theres’s an inextricable bond between this mix and Bonobo’s original work where it can occupy the same space on the shelf, even if its not an LP, giving “The North Borders” and “Migrate” a much needed break for a while while we wear this new record down to a smooth finish.

The cut with Filter Musikk

Sometimes at Filter Musikk a porthole to real world appears, opening directly into Skippergata and through what we thought was an impenetrable glass door. Often a person will slip through that doorway, clutching a cable or some idealistic dream of becoming a troubadour/ podcaster / producer with a kind of rabbit in the headlights stare, searching Roland Lifjell’s face for answers to questions that a psychoanalysts and a team of medical professionals couldn’t solve.

Roland suffers these fools gladly and he’s always quick with a cable (it’s almost always a cable) to break down the barrier (notice singular) standing between them and their unattainable creative industry, before they disappear back into obscurity, and out through that in-door. I’ve witnessed this exchange on fair few occasions and I tend to drop what I’m doing every time, internalising the voice of David Attenborough as I watch the scene unfold, and try to decipher what in the actual fuck just happened.

I mean, did they not see the records! Or is this some platform 9 ¾ situation. It’s like when people say they don’t like music, or listen to Ed Sheeran; I understand why you might not like something but why do you hate yourself so much. Are you not in the least bit curious about what undiscovered musical gems lie in wait in those dusty shelves; are you not aware that you are on hallowed ground? That’s when I realise that this might not be for everybody. And that’s ok too, because that just leaves more for the rest of us.

But we only have a finite time on this planet and the musical  treasures that wait to be uncovered at Filter Musikk are too many for a mere ten fingers to sift through in a day so with that: it’s time or another cut with Filter Musikk, where we and Roland Lifjell select our personal favourites from the latest new arrivals on wax.

 

Longhair – Longhair (Bordello A Parigi) – 12″

Is everybody taking their cues from Luca Lozano’s design studio? I don’t know what it is about this distorted nineties visual aesthetic, but it just lures you in, and while it might not suit records from many labels, it does communicate something of the music through a record like this latest one from the Dutch label Bordello A Parigi.

Marko Pelaic and Benedikt Bogenberger, collectively known as Longhair, deliver three proto-house, balearic cuts that make the first sonic impressions of a looming spring-summer season. Taught 808 kicks with an accent on the one and three, set a tempered mood, with hand percussion and synthetic bass-lines weaving their way through progresisve forms across the release.

Beatific melodic excursions eddy and swirl around misty atmospheres trapped in some reverie of a beach holiday. From “Squirt” to “As we travel” Longhair doesn’t veer from a sound they’ve clearly perfected and each one is able to carry a dance floor no matter what the context.

 

Infiniti, Reel By Real – Techno Por Favor / Sundog (Preservation Sound) 12

Marcel Dettmann recently highlighted this release in his new BBC radio residency. It’s one from the archives recently remastered, but sitting alongside the contemporary playlist of Dettmann’s first show, it still holds its own as an ultimate classic. Infinity and Reel by Real are in fact one in the same as Juan Atkins and “Techno Por Favor” and “Sundog” are timeless classics that Preservation Sound has brought to the fore again with a remastered edition.

While these original records are certainly coveted by devoted collectors, sonically they don’t really hold their own alongside contemporary records in the context of a DJ set, and that’s why we love these remastered editions. “Techno por Favor” and “Sundog” originally appeared on a couple of compilations right at the start of Techno’s history, when they had just started naming the genre, and even at that time Juan Atkins’ productions were a cut above the rest. He’d already started staking his claim as a formidable producer through the Model 500 project during the eighties, but when he started drifting into Techno he staked a claim as a super producer.

“Techno Por Favor” and “Sundog” have held their own and it’s great to see a new label like Preservation sound updating these hidden gems for a new audience, and bringing them together for the first time on one record.

 

New Frames – RNF1 (R – Label Group) 12″

It’s all about the B2 on this one, or as the label calls it 0.2… They’ve also called the A-side AB, and although we’re not sure what any of this means, it doesn’t really matter because by the time you get to “In the night,” it’s all irrelevant, because you’ll have emerged in the upside-down, transported on the metallurgical sonic constructions of New Frames.

Kobosil’s R label hosts the relatively new production duo who tap into a little something of that EBM trend currently dominating Berlin’s subterranean movements in the dark. David Frisch and Mathis Mootz however don’t piledrive their sound into a pail of distortion and 8 step sequences, but rather align their efforts towards the unyielding thrust of modern Techno.

Tracks like “Reese Defence” and “Totes Neon” feature vocals delivered like political slogans in much the same way groups like Front 242 or Nitzer Ebb did back in the eighties, but in the case of New Frames, these vocals feed a unrelenting machine music restrained in a minimalists straight-jacket progression.

It all comes to its glorious apogee by “In the night” with its hammering beat and a synth skewering every 8th note. A distorted vocal barking out from some abstract netherworld at a regular interval, anthropomorphizes the metallic, robot music feeding the aggression of the music.

 

Deep Dimension – Rave Channel (Gen X) 12″

Despite what their name might suggest, Deep Dimension are hardly exploiting the depths of their soul in their artistic pursuits. The relatively new Dutch duo comprised of Jeffrey Hek and Jimmy van de Geijn make bold, effectual statements on the dance floor with their latest record.

Considering their nationality, it’s not exactly gabber however – which lets face it is a relief – but strains of that relentless Dutch electronic music is certainly there; what did you expect from a record called Rave Channel. They restrain their ancestral impulses as they approach elements of hardcore, breakbeat, jungle and all those harder factions of electronic dance music.

Over six tracks, Deep Dimension hardly let you come up for air as they coerce a dance floor to their will through pounding kicks, broken beats and samples that sampled other samples, eroded through years of bit-crushing, screami9ng at you through the polyrhythmic malaise.   

 

Choc Stars, Teknokrat’s – Nakombe Nga / What Did She Say (Rush Hour) 12″

No, but seriously is Luca Lozano designing everybody’s record sleeves at this point? This record is a far cry from Longhair however, as Rush Hour continue to make some rarified finds available to new audiences. On this release they’ve offered us two sides of the same coin, with an original piece from Congo band Choc Stars and a 1989 track by Belgium producers Teknokrat’s  which samples “Nakombe Nga”.

It seems that the Choc Stars was a popular record in Belgium, because as one astute discogs user points out, the same sample is also present in Virginity’s “The Key”. So it seems that afro bubblegum played a vital role in Belgium new beat, but it doesn’t seem that a band like Choc Stars were officially credited on these tracks.Thanks to Rush Hour that record has been set straight, but I sincerely doubt if the original artists will ever be compensated.

This release certainly fuels that bubblegum frenzy, which Rush Hour has played a serious hand in bringing to the fore, and doesn’t look set to disappear anytime soon. Antal had a fair few of these kinds of records floating in his bag when he played Jaeger last year, and there’s probably some more in the back room at Rush Hour that are waiting to be unearthed. While this record brings nothing really new to the bubblegum sound, it does highlight how influential this music was and gives a band like Choc Stars their rightful place in music history. Perhaps this is the first of what could eventually be a series.

Emerge with Espen T. Hangård

* All Photos by Carsten Aniksdal

Espen T. Hangård’s greying beard; the indented lines that cross his forehead; and his voice, spoken with the measured gravitas that only life-experience can bring, suggests he might be a veteran of his craft, but he’s not. Even though he’s been working in music for the best part of his life, he only made his debut  as an electronic music artist in 2018. Releasing two LP’s in quick succession in Primær and Elementær, accompanied by a string of live performances around Norway, Espen went from relative obscurity to the darling of the DIY electronic music scene over the course of the last year. His, razor-sharp productions, which lie somewhere between the electronic pop formations of Kraftwerk and the Braindance excursions of Aphex Twin, was an instant hit across the Electro community. Espen’s distinctive approach, which offered a perspective on Electro in contrast to the ubiquitous DJ’s point of view, relayed an innocent charm that counterpointed the perfunctory elements which have been dominating electronic club music since Drexciya.

“When I started I wasn’t trying to release anything,” explains Espen when get the chance to sit down for an Interview, “I just wanted to make the stuff I wanted to make.” I had heard and wrote about both Primær and Elementær when they were released and something about Espen’s sound had immediately intrigued me. There was no pre-emptive focus on the dance floor and the song structures followed very similar to structures usually found in pop/rock music. When I heard him play live for the first time, I had found an electronic music artist bucking the DJ-cum-producer trend with a sincere nod to the past, and something completely unique to what anybody else is doing at the moment in Electro. Espen immediately stood out amongst the crowd, as he completely avoided those entrenched tropes, in some part emboldened by his unique musical history.  

Espen was “born in the seventies and grew up in the eighties” in Tonsberg and his first contact with music was through Heavy Metal and bands like Kiss and Iron Maiden and not Hip Hop as the usual DJ rhetoric would predict. At the same time however, he was also “exposed to the electronic pop music” of the nineteen eighties with chart topping singles by Madonna, New order and Depeche Mode, informing his early musical tastes. While most teenagers of the eighties were engaged with some peer pursuit and music was segregated either as the “dirty, unkempt” crowd of a Heavy Metal inclination or the “feminine” synth pop of the new romantics, Espen chose a very different route and absorbed everything he could when it comes to music. “I never thought that I had to distance myself from anything I liked before,” explains Espen, “I was always just listening to anything.”

By the age of 14 he had picked up the guitar and enamoured by the “new and exciting” sound of Thrash- and Death Metal he started his first band, Noplacetohide, followed by side projects like Altaar and KILLL. Noplacetohide had an impressive sixteen year run as a prominent fixture in the Norwegian Rock- and Metal scene, and they released two albums during the height of popularity for Norwegian metal. Throughout it all however Espen never lost touch with those early electronic influences .

Groups like Nitzer Ebb and Depeche Mode marked that crossover point between Espen’s Metal- and electronic indulgences. Espen attests; “the aggression of Nitzer Ebb probably has more of an appeal for people who are into rock music.” It was bands like Nitzer Ebb, Depeche mode “and the “Mute kind of stuff” that first drew Espen to the possibilities of drum machines and synthesisers. “The first big show I saw was Depeche Mode and Nitzer ebb in 1988,” recalls Espen. “Nitzer Ebb was a radical thing and they were just playing a backing track and a metal percussion thing, it was very stripped down and minimalist.” By the mid nineties, Espen’s musical interests had extended to the Warp family, with “Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Autechre” piqueing his interests, “but it took many many years after that before I started making my own electronic music,” he admits.

By the late nineties, however he had bought a soundcard and managed to get his hands on cracked copy of Cubase, merely as a “sketching tool for writing music” for his many bands. “I didn’t really get into it that much,” recounts Espen and it took another ten years after that before the “ball started rolling with making electronic music at home.” Outboard synthesizers and drum machines followed and it all culminated in an intense recording period between 2009 and 2012.

“I was not thinking this was going to be released initially,” says Espen. “I was just trying to emulate the music that I thought was cool, and learning the craft.” He quickly found he had an affinity for the machines and “after a few years” Espen had amassed a “pile of tracks” that he thought “were good enough to release.” It conspired around a dialogue with the label Galleberg Forelag and by 2018 the first batch of tracks came out as Primær, which was almost immediately succeeded by Elementær.

“The first tracks on these albums were from 2009,” says Espen, “three months from when I started making this kind of music.” After recording those first pieces in that three year period, Espen “made the decision to finish all the tracks no matter how hopeless they were” to the point that if he “were to play them to a friend,” he could play it “without any hesitation”. Working quickly through all the tracks he eventually had enough for two LPs and decided to split the tracks up into two distinctive records. “I could have arranged the tracks so that the two albums would have sounded very similar,” explains Espen, “but I chose to put the slightly more linear tracks on the first one, and the more elaborate, melodic tracks on the second one.” Espen believes it gave each record a “different temper” from the other, but close enough to relay a very unique sound across the two records that sets Espen’s music apart from the contemporary electronic music landscape.

How did he have to change his approach in music going from guitars and vocals to synthesisers and drum machines? “You have to think completely differently about music and how you produce it,” he explains. At the time, Espen had felt that his guitar playing had “hit a dead end” and turning to synthesisers, drum machines and grooveboxes felt “very liberating.” Espen had found new inspiration in old machines and their “old backwards interfaces.” He utilises these machines and archaic interfaces in a way that harks back to the likes of groups like Nitzer Ebb and Depeche Mode, where song structure and melodic themes impart a more accessible listening experience in his music, something which becomes apparent when you experience Espen T. Hangård in the live setting. At a recent show at Kafé Hærverk I was taken aback by Espen’s live set. In a scene dominated by the DJ-producer characters, where live sets often feature the same sinuous thread that spans a DJ set, Espen’s performance stood out. Built around the very same song structures on the records, he would play each piece as its own song, often stopping the drum machine, loading up a new project and setting forth from there like a band would through their setlist.

“I’m used to performing in bands so I’m used to music being live,” says Espen. “Also from the audience’s perspective doing a laptop set is perfectly cool, and playing records is perfectly cool, but to me I get something more out of it if the music is to a certain degree created in the moment.” The way he plays live is a “nerdy thing” for Espen and it’s probably something that has migrated to electronic music from his “rock orientation.” He’s not very “good with repetition” and is constantly in need of ”something to happen, to have a break and have something else come in.” This is what sets Espen’s live performance, and by association his music, apart from the rest of the artists working in his field. It is something that also carries through on his artwork for his first two LP’s where the usual retro computer graphics and robot themes, are supplanted for something that flows more organically across the collages made by Canadian artist Tag Andersson. It’s “very abstract,” feels Espen, “but they have a very clear feeling to them” and he still feels that eighties reference resonates through Andersson’s post-modernist design elements underpinning the work.

It’s unclear whether the aesthetic will follow through in Espen’s future works, and in musical terms he feels that he is “done with that period now.” He’s moved on to recording sessions from 2016, and while he hints that his vocal might be making more of a contribution, there is “nothing concrete” that has formulated yet from these recording sessions. There are also pieces dating back to 2013 as well as “one or two metal projects that I want to realise.” He’s main group Altaar are still  together even through they’ve been on hiatus for a while and whenever he can, Espen will be trying to work on music in one form or other. He’s recently contributed a “shouty” remix of a new Blitzkrieg Baby release destined for Aufnahme + Wiedergabe, but beyond that there is nothing primed for release.

He has however just released two full LP’s in very close succession and if that’s an indication of the kind of creative enterprise of the artist there is surely going to be more from him, very soon. As an electronic music artist he might be what the press would call an emerging artist, which is funny considering he’s already had a full career as a musician and artist, but in electronic music he’s certainly found a new voice, one that looks set to emerge, as a singular contribution to a choir of voices in this field.

 

* Follow Espen T. Hangård on Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud.

Album of the week: Various artists – TK Disco Re-edited Vol 1

During the height of Disco in the late seventies T.K. Disco has been the first and only word in Disco. Their iconic tiki-themed covers  have long been synonymous with the sounds of Disco, with the Miami-based label staking their own remarkable claim in the genre, most impressively as an independent label in the 1970’s. Throughout that decade T.K. Disco supplied DJs with energetic Disco cuts from a stable of talented artists, and even making their mark in the charts with the likes of KC and the Sunshine band. Unfortunately the label  didn’t survive much longer after the “Disco Sucks” event and movement and filed for bankruptcy in 1981, but the music lived on with tracks like Ralph McDonald’s “Jam on it”, being sampled by Hip Hop’s upper echelon, from the Roots to Q-Tip over the years. In Oslo, and with the city’s unique relationship with Disco, T.K. Disco records has always enjoyed a special kind of reverence in the DJ community.

In 2015, label owner Henry Stone resurrected T.K.Disco, re-issuing some old favourites from its back-catalogue and updating a few seminal pieces through edits from the likes of Danny Krivit, records that have always enjoyed an audience at places like Filter Musikk. In the latest addition to the label’s extensive catalogue comes a whole series of these edits in a double LP. Re-edited Vol. 1 is a selection of some of the label’s most iconic pieces re-edited by some of the DJ world’s most renowned figures working in the field today. Dimitri from Paris, Norman Jay, Late night tuff Guy, Kon, Todd Terje and Danny Krivit, take on tracks like Ralph MacDonald’s “Jam on the Groove” and KC and the Sunshine band’s “I’m your boogie man” for this star-studded release.

Their contemporary counterparts handle the fragile originals with the care of a museum curator, preserving as much of the original, but leaving their own faint mark in the process. Importantly these are edits and not remixes, so the original sonic  charm of these classics remain in place while some structure and perhaps, modern mixing effects are applied to make these records work on a modern dance floor for today’s audiences. Todd Terje delivers two KC and the Sunshine Band edits, most notably their seminal 1976 classic, “I’m your Boogie man.” He strips the original from its vocals, and with a minimal approach, he turns the Disco original into a future boogie classic, which will surely be making the rounds this summer on the DJ circuit.

And while Danny Krivit turns Ralph MacGonald’s “Jam on it” into a DJ tool in one of the most extreme edits in this compilation, most of the producers have favoured a more reserved approach to handling these classic disco tracks. Each producer their unique perspective from the modern DJ booth through these old tracks, not in a way of modernising them, but rather like hearing them with a fresh set of ears. T.K. Disco have certainly caught everybody’s attention with this star-studded- cast and tracks on the first of what we hope to be a series, so it would be interesting to see where they take it next, and if they can maintain the standard they’ve set on volume 1.

The cut with Filter Musikk

Think about the DJ, and the first image that comes to mind is somebody hunched over a pair of turntables. Even today, in light of CDJs and DJ software, when television or films need to portray the DJ in the correct context, a pair of Technics 1200s will almost always be in the foreground of the shot. The turntable and the record is an iconic image today, one that carries so many subjective associations with the DJ that record culture and DJ culture are completely interchangeable today. But they’re not.  What people have experienced in recent years as an increased interest in the vinyl format and thus record culture through physical sales, is actually the rise in sales of classic LPs, re-issued by big labels. New pressings of classic albums by the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin don’t subsume record culture nor does it have any relationship to DJ culture who’s calling card has always been the 12” single.

On the other end of the scale DJ culture is also necessarily record culture either. As Øyvind Morken so eloquently put in a recent piece he contributed to this blog: “There are loads of people who are into music, but they are not into record culture. Producers still release music on vinyl rather than digitally, even though they don’t buy records themself. They are not contributing to record culture, they are merely taking advantage of it for their own personal gain.” Emerging labels and up and coming producer-DJs are relying on that very same iconic image of the DJ with his/her two turntables when few of them even play records or in some extreme cases even own a record. They saturate record culture with the kind of music that should be reserved for the consumerist DJ culture online, releases that leave little to be desired beyond the trend-informed obvious.

There are those places however where DJ culture and record culture converge. These places are becoming rare, but they’ve wavered little from their origins. There are those DJs and institutions that have always perpetuated the 12” single vinyl format, even during a period where it went through a great slump. Even though DJ culture would emerge as a popular culture during this period, record culture would suffer at the hand of digital music technologies, but there were always a dedicated few perpetuating the 12” format and record culture as DJs; places like Hardwax in Berlin, Rush Hour in Amsterdam and Filter Musikk here in Oslo.

People like Roland Lifjell at Filter Musikk have dedicate their entire lives to the format and today, as record culture is being infiltrated by a new kind of insincere capitalist, they remain the bastion and the sanctuary for the ardent records, DJs and listeners that bridge that narrow gap between record culture and DJ culture. It’s people like Roland Lijell and his shop Filter Musikk that continues to pursue the same ideologies that turned the DJ behind a set of decks into an icon by distributing those records, labels and artists that still uphold that legacy. Here are some of the latest arrivals that perpetuate the sentiment. This is the Cut with Filter Musikk.

 

Luigi Tozzi – Tender Is The Night (Non Series) 12″

A great deal of noise has infiltrated Techno over the last 5 years. Crunching, distorted kick drums pounding their way into oblivion through a bedrock of white noise are currently soundtracking early mornings in vacuous warehouse spaces across the globe. While that kind of thing certainly has its appeal, at times you just need to take a step back and breathe for a second. You need the counterpoint, a deeper, minimal, progressive sound and nobody does that sound better than the Italians. The likes of Dozzy Donato, Lucy, and Luigi Tozzi have excavated a deep, spatial vacuum in Techno for many years, offering an interpretation of the genre that relies on something a little more cognitive than the immediate threat.   

After perpetuating this sound over a fair few records, mostly for Hypnus Records, Luigi Tozzi brings his music to Manuel Anõs’ (Psyk) Non-Series. Luigi Tozzi’s spatial awareness in his productions prevails with four cuts that lie on the border between ambient and Techno. Microtonal, synthetic droplets bounce between delays and reverberations as they float on breezy pads, rolling over the cascading percussive rhythms. There’s a very progressive nature to his music, especially on a track like “Black Market” where the rhythm section is unwavering in the languid atmospheres floating in the hemisphere above it. Luigi Tozzi has perfected his sound by now, so he’s breaking very little new ground on “Tender is the night,” but as it migrates onto Non-Series, it’s spreading the gospel of that Deep Tech Italian sound further into the world.

 

Tarjei Nygård – Lost In Lindos (ESP Institute) 12″

Bergen producer, Tarjei Nygård returns to the Californian imprint, ESP institute for “Lost in Lindos”. The four-track EP finds itself somewhere between Deep House and the Balearic isle as samples and synthesisers conspire on the fringes of the dance floor for this release.

There’s an expressive charm to Nygård’s records where you can discern that all-encompassing nature of Norwegian DJ/producer culture, but it’s never defined by it. For the majority of the EP, Nygård creates a path towards the dance floor with three cuts erring on the side of caution at downtempo rhythms and deep, progressive melodic phrases.

From the Trance synth work on “Forus Echo” to the bubbling synth and talking drum of the title track to the jangly melody and deep bass of “Bleusa”, Nygård merges a wide spectrum of musical references at some subconscious level in unique musical pieces, but that’s not where this record is at its best, believe it or not.

It’s the ambient beauty of “Øllie” that really steals the show on ”Lost in Lidos.” Ten minutes of  tranquil strumming guitars and processed field recordings swirling around the stereo field envelopes the listener in a warm, sonic embrace. Seemingly going nowhere, elements converge and float apart, making brief contact through the track that moves through it temporal line like a living organism.

 

Frak – Berga Magic EP (Hypercolour) 12″

Björft’s Jan Svensson and his group Frak have been doing this kind of music since the 1980’s and yet somehow they still manage to bring something unique to the landscape with every record they bring out. Although most of the group’s output is reserved for Björft records, they often moonlight on similar labels, and this, latest release finds them on Hypercolour.

Frak’s DIY Punk, Techno aesthetic has wavered little from those first tapes, but they’ll often modulate between different aspects of this sound, between Electro, synthwave, EBM and Techno as they coax abstract noise from determined machines.

On “Berga Magic” they veer very little from the consistency of Techno’s four-four insistence, but bring a little of that eighties black magic along with them as gated snares, bouncing-ball toms, and fuzzy bass lines converge across these four tracks.They bide their time, settling into each loop and letting it linger with little to no development around the very strict rudimentary foundation that makes up each track.

Frak rely on a mere few bold elements that make their mark immediately and veer little from those crucial elements, only adding noise or the much needed break to colour the stoic progression, leaving enough blank canvas for the DJ who needs to manipulate it in- and out of the next track.

 

DJ Di’jital – Electrohop1 (TRUST) 12″

TRUST records seem to come with their own money-back guarantee. We have yet to find a TRUST record we haven’t liked and now with the addition of Detroit legend DJ Di’jital contributing to the discography, this record is a no-brainer.

In America, the associations between Electro and Hip Hop have always been more fluid than in Europe, where although its ancestors are the very same that inspired artists like Afrika Bambaataa and Egyptian Lover, the contemporary results are always more likely to align themselves with Techno rather than Hip Hop.

DJ Di’jital crosses the boundary  for TRUST on “Electrohop1” playing between samples and synthesis and switching quickly between phrases in his tracks, like a scratch DJ would. Tracks, barely breaking the four-minute mark, make succinct, immediate impressions with DJ Di’jital training all his focus on the beat. Pieces like “808 Kits” and “Jlt to this” are DJ tools in many respects, almost like the producer was purposely making a record to be sampled by emerging Hip Hop producers.

“Input Main”, “Gamma Radiation,”  and “Entity (The Getdown)” make the biggest impression with vocoders, sawtooth waves, swinging beats and song structures leaving a tantalising thread to the origins of Electro.

 

Inigo Kennedy – Trajectory (Token) 12″

Inigo Kennedy’s music indulges much the same sonic identity as his DJ sets, where more is indeed more. Plying layer upon layer in his sets, he’s one of the few DJs we’ve witnessed actually using four decks simultaneously and the music he constructs, mostly for Token follows the same premise.

Extensive layers on “Trajectory” bathes the record in a kind of murky hue punctuated by explosive kick drums and chattering hi-hats through the opening title track towards “Turmoil” on the B2 cut. The aggressive onslaught of the percussion section is subdued by languid pads that cast a visceral light on the individual tracks as the concurrent theme of this release.

Kennedy’s melodic phrasing lays a path of crumbs towards something slightly more emotive beyond the immediacy of the thunderous pounding of kick drums. It’s refreshing to hear a Techno producer of Kennedy’s calibre adding more depth, and a melodic component to the genre, contrasting the stark, barren treatment of Techno that has prevailed for the longest time.

 

Front left speaker – Flint

Front left speaker is a new series of stories told from the front left speaker of a memorable night out. To kick off the series I (Mischa Mathys) remember the legacy of Keith Flint in an unlikely context . It’s 2003 at a rock festival…

In a muddy field somewhere in the east midlands UK, I’m standing up to my ankle in a brown sludge I hope is composed of only mud. In front of me, a hundred odd people have somehow managed to pull the tarp they were standing over their head, repurposing the floor as a makeshift uber-umbrella against the incessant UK summer downpour. Ah summer in England… This isn’t a rave, nor is it even an electronic music festival. This is the Download festival, 2003, the inauguration of the Download festival in fact and no, it is not some music sharing nerd-a-thon… this is a no thrills, no fuss rock festival when guitar music was still dominating the charts and popular.

The moshing hordes pushing against the fence are currently shoving their way through some millennial, nu-metal band’s greatest-, and only hit, before the band retreats from the stage and into permanent obscurity. The crowd subsides into a faint din below the drip-drip-drip of the water hitting the tarp, as a wave of bodies, dressed in black scurry across the stage making room for the next act. Two drum kits are rolled on the stage and then suddenly, without much warning Keith Flint emerges, prowling the stage from one end to the other with a joker’s snarl smeared across his inanimate face. There’s an intensity in the silence as the rest of the band take their position behind Keith before they break into a thunderous clattering of guitars and percussion.

The short, stocky Englishman has aged little from the arsonist that invaded our television screens in the mid-nineties as the Firestarter, and his presence is as formidable as ever, especially in this context. The iconic inverted mohawk might have grown out into a Rotten-like razor trim, but dressed in a leather kilt and a pristine white vest, strutting across the stage like a caged badger that don’t give a fuck, he exudes every inch of the rebel that ignited that fire all those years ago. But this isn’t Prodigy, hell there isn’t even a synthesiser on stage. This is Keith Flint fronting his brief but explosive foray into a fully fledged punk frontman as Flint during a brief hiatus from Prodigy.

Everybody of my generation, the jilted generation if you will, has a Keith Flint and Prodigy story, and most of them go something a little more like this: ”they introduced me to electronic music”; “they were the first electronic band I saw live”; “Keith Flint and Prodigy changed my life”. This rhetoric runs perpendicular to my own biography too, but seeing Keith Flint fronting his own band, really puts into perspective the awe-inspiring presence of the artist and the man that would expose rave music and culture to whole generation of impressionable youths and bring it to the forefront of popular culture. It was Keith Flint’s eccentricities that finally gave dance music the one thing it had always lacked in the sea of introverts… a rock star… a personality for young malleable minds to idolise and imitate, although few of us were ever brave enough to shave a 10cm parting over our skull.

Electronic music’s popularity to-day is in large part due to Keith Flint and Prodigy’s impact. Their borderline blasphemous treatments of House, Techno, and Acid replete with

wailing guitars and screeching vocals, took electronic music out of the hands of humdrum DJ culture and the subterranean liars of club culture and put it front and centre… stage to be exact. Acts like Orbital, The Chemical Brothers and Aphex Twin had already come into their own as live acts, but Liam Howlett’s dancers-turned-frontmen in the form of Maxim and Keith Flint had suddenly presented the world with a fully fledged rave group, a group that had something visual and tactile to offer machine made music, a group that could jump around on stage and incite a passive crowd, and in Keith Flint a poster-image of a group that could addorn a pubescent fan’s wall.

In South Africa we didn’t get Prodigy on the airwaves until the Fat of the Land (and radio was pretty much the only source of new music for us at that time), but I’d already been an obsessive fan since “Music for the Jilted Generation, when my UK cousins had procured a copy and brought it back to South Africa. By the time Fat of the Land came out I had already worn out the tape my cousins had graciously copied for me; familiarised myself with their entire back-catalogue through tapes borrowed from friends and a copy of the Prodigy experience; and had manhandled the breathe cd single so much the cardboard sleeve had completely disintegrated.

Fat of the Land though turned a mere fanboy into an obsessive. We had just gotten MTV (well, my grandmother got MTV) and any opportunity I would get I would spend late nights waiting for the Firestarter video to air after the watershed. I had drawn the cartoon image of Keith Flint (that one from the fat of the land innersleeve) on my school bookcase, impregnating the image of Flint on there forever, his ghostly figure haunting my high school career, much to the dismay of my teachers, who had wasted no time in giving me detention for soiling my bookcase, but deterred me little from my eternal musical pursuits.

And here Keith Flint is in the flesh, on a demure stage in the middle of the day shouting into a microphone like his confronting his nemesis. The music doesn’t break any molds and it is very much of its time and place, but Keith’s presence is magnetic. The tonal vitriol spewing forth in staccato angry bursts from Keith’s lips is emboldened by raucous guitars and two drummers beating their kits into glorious drum n bass compliance. Strands of Prodigy are in there somewhere, but Keith commands every part of this solo project. Prodigy collaborators Jim Davies and drummer Kieron Pepper flank Keith on guitars and drums, strengthening that connection to Flint’s claim to fame, but putting Keith Flint in his rightful place as the dominating frontman he imbues.

Much like Keith Flint, I had taken a hiatus from electronic club music, and my listening habits is had been consumed by guitar wielding bands like Queens of the Stone age and the Mars Volta for the years leading up to this concert. It would not be the first or the last time that I would switch sides like this, but if there was ever one group that would ultimately bridge the gap between guitar music and electronic music and continue to win over fans from either side, it was the Prodigy. At 15 when I had delusional dreams of becoming a musician and forming a band with a school friend, Prodigy’s Breathe would play in the practise sessions as some source of inspiration; Davies razor-like guitar work on that track to this day stirring something corrupt in me alongside that metallic percussive sample.

And even though like most people of my generation I would outgrow my immature adolescent musical tastes, whenever a new Prodigy record would come out I would at least give it a listen and at times, with tracks like “Girls” and “Take me to the hospital” a glimmer of that teenage rebellion would shine through and re-ignite that fire that started my appreciation for electronic music.

Flint’s show is explosive and brief, and Keith barely gets a sweat going before they evacuate the stage as suddenly as they pounced on it. I’ve never seen Prodigy live; by the time I eventually could, I didn’t want to taint the impression they left by seeing some over-blown stage production. But seeing Flint at Download in 2003 had forever burned an impression of Keith Flint into mind, a musical persona and a presence that was born to be a frontman. Keith Flint was an icon and possibly the last of his kind. “We’ve basically lost another amazing frontman,” Download creator Andy Copping told Kerrang after Keith Flint’s untimely passing in 2019 . “I mean, you almost forget that with The Prodigy it has always been about their sound, but Keith orchestrated everything, and he was the focal point of the band. When most people think of The Prodigy they think of Keith.”

 

* If you have your own story from the front left speaker, we’d like to hear and share it. Please send us an e-mail editor@jaegeroslo.no.  

Album of the week: Sleaford Mods – Eton Alive

Sleaford Mods music sounds like it was recorded in the basement of a pub, with Andrew Fearn balancing his laptop on a beer barrel while Jason Williamson shouts over the din from the punters above between buying rounds in the pub. Fearn’s raw, inimitable approach to production is only matched by Williamson’s scathing indictment of the world, but on their latest LP, “Eton Alive” you’d be surprised to find that their commentary is not entirely directed at the British upper-class as the title suggests.

Sleaford Mods’ electronic Punk sound has been cemented over four preceding records, rooted in the same three chord philosophy of their Punk Rock forbearers, but wielding laptops instead of guitars and whittling the political ideologies of the seventies down to the everyday woes of the working class British citizen. “I’ve got two brown bins, but should I have one, what the council don’t know won’t hurt them.”

Fronted by Williamson’s gruff vocal, which offers a sort of antithesis to the puerile charms of the likes of Mike Skinner and Johnny Rotten, Sleaford Mods’ music aligns itself more with the tone of the chatter at the local pub, trying to find the brief necessary escape from the realities outside.

Williamson’s matter-of-fact tone in rattling off through some abstract narrative is as approachable as ever on “Eton Alive”. He paints a lurid picture of things like social media culture, celebrity, the establishment in the record industry, and consumerism with Fearn (wearing his “I still hate Thatcher” t-shirt) leaving enough room for the vocalist’s commentary in his bare-knuckled production. Bass guitars and live kick drums bring a new dimension to Sleaford Mod’s sound on this record from the tin-can electro-pop of their previous albums.

There was some mention of some soul influences petering through this latest record, but besides for the organic tones of the production this record is still more of a full-frontal assault at superficial level than any deep, soul searching realisation. Sleaford Mods’ lyrics wrap it all up in some abstract twisted metaphor, open for interpretation at times, but always making sure it gets it point across. There’s that usual nihilistic “everything is shit at the moment” strain underpinning everything, which in the shadow of Brexit and right-wing conservatism feeds a larger meta-narrative, depending on the listener’s perspective. The abrasive word-salad Williamson tosses over to his audience in a kind of a tabloid word jumble, is easy enough to decipher if you’re looking for more out of the music than its musical immediacy, but it is up to the listener’s perspective.

Sleaford Mods are the Bob Dylans and Kris Kristoffersons for the pre-millennial unidentified generation; the generation born between generation x and -z; wondering around in the purgatory wasteland that can be found between their credit-consuming generation mother and fathers and the optimistic ideologies of the next generation. Themes in Sleaford Mods music are nihilistic to the point of utter conviction on “Eton Alive”, giving a voice to the everyday man in search of something tangible and accomplishable in a world with too many impossible parameters. “

The wrong record at the right time by Øyvind Morken

Untzdag resident Øyvind Morken discusses the allure of certain unusual records, that when played at the right time can have very significant effects on the dance floor.

I’ve been a resident at Jæger for the past seven years. Coming in every week I have to keep it interesting for myself and I’m pretty sure that if you’ve been recording me since the beginning, you wouldn’t hear me playing the same kind of set twice. I’m always bringing new music and the best parties I’ve had at Jaeger are the ones I’ve played all night and could dictate the evening through several tempos and moods; that’s the nice thing about playing a residency, you can develop it in a way that’s personal to you. I didn’t force this in any way, it’s the way I am, and the way I am is the way we all are, eclectic. My record bag reflects this too, and although I always have to carry those records that if I know I’m struggling I can play those records, and I’ll be fine, I’ve never been interested in those. I’m more interested in the records that you have to fit a whole set around. These are the records that might not naturally work at any point during the course of a night, or you really have to tailor them to make them fit. These are the wrong records at the right time.

The wrong speed

It’s something that has interested me since I started playing records at the wrong speed. At the flick of a switch on your record player, you can drop a record down an octave or two in pitch and play it at about three quarters of its original speed. I remember starting to do this in the early 2000’s and I thought I was a genius, because I thought nobody had done this before. But then I read about Fat Ronny, Beppe Loda, Baldelli and Mozart – All these guys were doing this since the late seventies and early eighties, and it was nothing new. DJs have been doing this since the invention of the variable pitch record player, but it’s still something of a lost art in the era of CD players. By virtue of the modern DJ CD Player, DJing now is very tempo-based, with the beats per minute constantly displayed on the bright luminous LCD screen. It’s incredibly hard to ignore. The way I grew up Djing, it was based on the inherent musical quality of the record rather than tempo so I have to think; How can I find a way to bring all this music into a set.

Take André Bratten’s Un Pax / Americana for instance, which plays at 140BPM. I play that it at the wrong tempo around 105 -110BPM and the record suits me better at the wrong speed. It’s a full-on Techno record usually, but at the wrong speed its a chugging, pumping record. It’s what the wrong record at the right time is all about. It’s about playing a record that fits a mood and it’s about establishing the sound of a night. Sometimes I can even play under 100 BPM the whole night; creating a vibe with slow music and that’s why I play the wrong record or the right record at the wrong speed, for the vibe. An artist like André Bratten would probably hate it, but when you release a record it’s not yours anymore; It’s mine and the dance floor’s.

Weathermen – Deep Down South

Not every record sounds good at the wrong speed, and it’s never about just hearing something familiar at a slower tempo. It’s about a record that turns into something completely different from the original, like this Weathermen record. There are two versions, but I usually play the one with the vocal because it’s heavier. In this case I accidentally stumbled on the effects of playing it slower, but often I will actively look for a record to play at the wrong speed, because I love playing in a very psychedelic way. When you get the dance floor in on the slow music, it’s completely different night out. You don’t get tired and it gives the dancer more room to get into the rhythm of the night.

Now, this might be a bold statement, but I think most DJs that play in Oslo are at times cowards. That is not to suggest that they aren’t good DJs, merely that they let the dance floor dictate the music; The crowd controls the music. If you don’t experiment, and you might fail, you’ll never know the limits to where you could push yourself and the crowd. As an individual who’s been on both sides of the booth since a teenager, it’s better to have 15 people in a club having a great time, rather than 150 who aren’t really interested. The common denominator goes down as you bring in more people and there’s going to be more people who aren’t there for the right reasons. If there are too many people that are only half into it, it ruins the vibe.

I am stubborn about music and the mood it sets, and I’ll play a record like this, this way which will give the dancer a more substantial reward at the end of the day; If they don’t leave they’ll get into it. It might take longer, but at the end of the night they might be in for a better night because they’ll let themselves experience something that they haven’t heard before, even if it is something that they have heard before.

Hysteric – Temple

If you play a record at the wrong speed, it’s curious how when listening to it at the right speed, something doesn’t quite sound right afterwards. This Hysteric record can be played fine at both speeds, it sounds like a space-aged Electro record under normal circumstances, but slowing it down, gives it a whole new character, eccentric bordering on malicious. Hysteric is known for his disco edits, and I’m not sure if this is an edit or an original, but in the way it sounds at this slower speed, there’s something unusual about it.   

Everybody has a finite capacity for new things, and I think to be open to new ideas and new music, takes constant work. I look for stuff everywhere. Even so, I don’t think I’ve played a record that I don’t personally like. Playing music should be something special and I don’t want to end up hating it. I buy music (both physically and digitally) every week and I continue to find stuff all the time; it never ends, and that’s a good thing.

It is getting harder though as the market becomes absolutely flooded with people that don’t get record culture. There are loads of people who are into music, but they are not into record culture. Producers still release music on vinyl rather than digitally, even though they don’t buy records themself. They are not contributing to record culture, they are merely taking advantage of it for their own personal gain. I prefer records and artists who in the spirit of DIY culture make personal and substantial contributions to this record culture with records like these. I like the do-it-yourself stuff. I like the whole process of making a record; from designing the centre label to getting it pressed and out there. You can’t think of it as something to make money from; It’s like the guy with the motorcycle, it’s a hobby, it’s costing him money.

Unconformist at the right moment

Tik & Tok – Cool Running

There’s a seven inch version of this track somewhere in Oslo for the more curious amongst you. This is a track I like to play at peak time even though it might not be suited for that. It’s funny with Electro records; While they might work in the rest of the world right now, they are hard to play in Norway and I’ve lost a few dance floors around Electro records across the 18 years I’ve been active. It’s quite a contrast from the rest of the world where I’ve experienced people are more open to it. It has something to do with the early closing times in Norway in my opinion. When I play clubs in other countries where they are open till 8/10 in the morning, people are more open to different stuff early in the morning. When I play a club that runs deep into morning, I can play a crazy krautrock record at 7am in the morning and people could be totally in to it.

You can’t do that in Oslo or Norway because everything closes early, and this has huge cultural implications for our nightlife. Not just because of the problem of having everybody in the street at the same time, but the whole thing about the way people consume alcohol or drugs, it’s so intense in a very short time; It’s not good for the body or the mind. It’s part of the reason I will play a record like this at peak time, because it just counteracts that excessively intense mood. When people have space, it’s a different way of going out. We used to have later nights in Norway, where even though the bar will close at 3am, the club will stay open till 5 or 6 am and that’s one of the things I miss of going out in Oslo today.

There was this club called Potta and they used to play House music when the bar closed after 3am. It was a lesbian club and one of the few places that played dance music, after 3am. I used to go there by myself. None of my friends would go there because it was a lesbian bar. But I didn’t give a shit, because I just wanted to listen to the music.

Concept Neuf – The Path

This is a record that if you play it at the right time, it’s super funny. It’s very dramatic and it’s very picturesque like a movie. It’s library music from a French (or at least French speaking) percussion group, and I love records like this. I found it in a shop in Oslo and the cover immediately resonated with me as that snaking xylophone stretched out into the distance. I’ve always been into percussion music and percussive sounds.  

I’ve played it and emptied the dance floor, and I’ve played it where its exploded into a funny party scene and it usually happens after the extended introduction, where a calypso, party vibe ensues and the dance floor turns into this imaginary scene from a movie of an hotel bar in Acapulco. It’s music that doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s very refreshing in the current era of club culture and music. House and Techno music, especially Techno music, takes itself too seriously.

You have to remember that the whole dance floor is a performance and everybody is contributing to something. I just saw Mission Impossible the fallout and DJ Harvey is in it, and they just nailed what club culture is about today; 1000’s of people, standing stock-still with their camera phones trained on the DJ. I think with a record like this it would be pointless facing the DJ, because it would be boring if you don’t lose yourself in it. Something that’s gone wrong in club culture today is the glorification of the DJ. Today people are a name on a poster before they are actually DJs, without the necessary experience or musical knowledge to cater to an audience.  

The unexpected surprises

Francois De Roubaix & Bernard Maitre – Les Onix

I always see people coming in, warm-up DJs playing house records from the first track out, like they are already embodying that name on the poster. I like to bide my time and settle into a night. This is one of those records I like to play when people start coming in. I always start without a beat, usually ambient or library music, because I play to the room, and it is usually empty at the beginning. This is another piece of library music, this time from a French kids tv show recorded between 1972 and 1976 and it’s so different. I would love to have an opportunity to make music for kids television and I know Bjørn Torske has made music for kids tv in the past. I’ve asked him to send it to me, but he’s misplaced the original recordings. I can imagine he would be quite good at it, and I was curious to hear it.

These are just skits, composed of the kind of strange sounds that kids usually love. I have a newborn son and he’s always curious when I’m playing music and the audible effects of a physical action, like placing his hand on the record, or the result of his own yelps in a reverberating room. I didn’t get this record for my son, but like the previous record, I found it a looking through stuff, and thought; ‘this looks interesting.’

Paul B.Davis – Deep Wine

In a similar way I found this record, which is not a record, but actually a CD. It’s not listed on discogs, and much like every other record I’ve mentioned it has that DIY feel to it. It was released by a label called jolly music and the kid responsible for the music is only like twenty years old. It’s a grime track with this dance hall rhythm, and there’s even a bit of Rhythm Is Rhythm in there. I don’t know anything about grime and I wouldn’t necessarily look for music under that genre, but this record shows that if you look in unexpected places you might find some pearls. People look for music in these narrow confines dictated by genre, and they won’t usually find music like this if you look for music in that way. You have to broaden your horizons even if it goes against your personal tastes.

Some of the other tracks are super cheesy and yet it would probably appeal to a few people during this current revival of Trance in Europe, but Deep Wine is the one I always play and definitely needs to be played at the right time. Because of those dance hall elements, if you play it for a bunch of House- or Techno heads, they would just leave. You need to work it for the right moment, and sometimes you might win over one or two of the more uncompromising heads in the room.

Insanlar – Kime Ne

Then there are records too that completely defy categorisation. This is one those records and one that never leaves my side. It was released by Insanlar, which is Baris K’s band, and today it’s a pretty known record, but it was given to me by Baris before it was released, when he played Untzdag years back. There aren’t that many 24 minute records that you could play the full 24 minutes of on a dance floor like this one. The first time I played this one, I had completely lost the vibe on the dance floor, and I was like ‘fuck it’, and dropped this in. Its effects were immediate, it completely reset the vibe and brought everybody back to the dance floor.

I think this is a live recording, from a club Baris runs in Turkey with a couple of friends, called MINIMUZIKHOL. There’s something incredibly musical about it with real musicians playing instruments over sequenced drum machines and synthesisers. 15 minutes in and somebody starts scatting and it just explodes with energy. It ended up being like a riot on the dance floor, even though it’s a slow tempo record.

It’s an amazing piece of music and there are not that many tracks that are this long that you can play through its entirety. This has something extraordinary about it and it’s something I’ll keep coming back to. For some people changing the tempo in the middle of the night would be something totally wrong, but for me it’s exactly what I mean by  the wrong record at the right time.

 

The cut with Filter Musikk

A wave of gentrification is sweeping across the global village and everything from politics to culture is being swept up into mediocrity and conformity. In music, the result is an introspective re-appropriation of musical genres at some rudimentary level. A formula of formula of an idea of how music should sound, has very little value beyond the immediate and has lead to a major stagnation in music. At every level it seems that artists and musicians tend to conform around a populace idea of what Hip Hop, Techno, Electro, Techno et al is and it has taken all the idiosyncrasies out of the music, where most of it blends into the same monotonous drone.

Throughout music history and into its present there are those characters and musical institutions that have opposed this conformity in powerful and intense terms. They ardently and at times vehemently opposed societal norms in pursuit of something unique, sticking their tongue out to the world and its conservative musical trends. Powers that be find them dangerous because they don’t understand them or their piercing rebel yell, and would rather suppress them than listen to them. These characters will eventually almost always prevail and sometimes even mobilise a culture behind them. Keith Flint was such a character… and he might have been the last of these characters.

His untimely passing comes in age where we desperately need more people like him to oppose the mediocrity seeping in as counter culture becomes mainstream culture and Techno bros and weekend pleasure seekers saturate every aspect of this culture and its music. It’s time to take up that rebel call again and if we’re going to find the power in our lungs to summon its piercing strength, we’re going to have to retreat into the margins again, back to the point of gestation from which this culture’s roots emerge and that means going back to the record store.

In Oslo Filter Musikk is the first and only word on the matter, the last vestige for the undesirables and the freaks like Keith Flint who pursue a onerous path against the tide of conformity, and the only place we can go to keep the spirit of somebody like Keith Flint alive. During a time when vinyl was in a sales slump, Filter Musikk persevered with Roland Lifjell at the helm, and as one of the few artists still releasing new vinyl at that time, Prodigy made up a fair share of Roland’s stock. “Felt I was the Prodigy store for a while there,” muses Roland, and even managed to win a fair few DJs over to the raucous sound of the UK ravers at that time.

For the generation in their mid thirties  everybody has a Prodigy or Keith Flint story that they can tell, and for the generation that came before and after it, their’s and Flint’s impact on electronic music and rave culture has been a formidable and lasting one. It’s with great sorrow that we dedicate this edition of Filter Musikk to Keith Flint, and hope that his iconic legacy could inspire a new age of musical rebellion, soundtracked by music that retains that spirit, hopefully music like this like this…

 

Mas569 – Vamos A Entrar Desde Afuera (Forbidden Planet) 12″

There’s something to Jurg Haller’s Forbidden Planet label that simply shouts out at you from its austere packaging. The pencil sketches that adorn the cover of Forbidden Planet records are quite insidious as they draw you into their dower aesthetic, only to reveal something viceral, often grotesque or even ghastly in their abstract form. There are many other labels that have a similar visual profile, but what sets Forbidden Planet apart from the rest, is that the visual aesthetic carries through to the music, through past releases from Mono Junk, Cadency (Hector Oakes) and the Mover and now with this latest release from Chilean producer Mas569.

Electro is FB’s calling card and Mas569 upholds the sonic aesthetic that the label has perpetuated since day one. Skipping Electro rhythms and synth-heavy melodic phrases remain the order of the day as the new artist finds his voice in the Electro genre. “Vamos A Entrar Desde Afuera” is quite a leap from the artist’s previous and first EP, which favoured the kind of tougher House sound associated with early L.I.E.S records, but the way he weaves the melodic phrases through the heavy percussion bares some similarities with this latest EP. There’s a little more on the bone on “Vamos A Entrar Desde Afuera” as “Raza”, “STGO” and “Martillo” cater for something a little beyond the dance floor as the artist finds his place in the Forbidden Planet catalogue.

 

LNS, E-GZR – Crypto Stock / Beatdown (Wania) 12″ 

LNS and E-GZR are back on the Sex Tags Wania imprint, appearing together for the first time as a collaborative duo for the A-Side, “Crypto Stock”. A bold stomping Electro cut that moves  between writhing acid bass lines and wispy atmospheres, the track unfolds much like those early Aphex Twin pieces on Warp as it continually evolves and modulates between phrases.

Appearing like the random thoughts of an android on the cusp of an existential crises, the form avoids consistency and normality for the abstract. It’s a pattern that the elusive E-GZR perpetuates on the B-side on his/her own, focussing more on the percussive elements than the previous track. That Wania / Sex Tags DIY immediacy is consistent and the music retains that kind of immediate allure, like the artists are recording the music straight onto the acetate and moving onto the next thing almost instantly.

 

Girls Of The Internet – Fondness Makes The Heart Grow Absent (Drab Queen) 12″ 

Girls of the internet are neither girls, they are not even a plurality, nor are they adept at Internet it seems with a small social media following. Girls of the Internet is Tom Kerridge, a side-project of the Ramp Records founder that has brought a little something of House music back its origins on this latest release for Drab Queen. The AA-side features soulful vocals, funky bass-lines and Tom Kerridge’s unique electronic adventures that flutter through the track like dazzling animatronic fireflies.

Terrence Parker takes the theme of the track and dials back the clock to 1989 for an energetic piano version of the original. Underpinning the essence of the track with that soulful vocal and the grooving bass, very little else remain of the original, as Terrence swaps out Kerridge’s guitars and electronic frivalities for a stark dance floor construction with meatier kicks and a perfunctory minimalism instead. While the original might indulge more of an effort on the listener’s behalf, Terrence Parker just gets straight to the point on the remix for a peak time vibe.

 

Roza Terenzi, D. Tiffany, Jayda G – Oscillate Tracks 001 (Oscillate Tracks) 12″ – link

Oscillate is a Berlin club night turned label. Coming to the fore out of the heady musical vaults at ://about blank, Oscillate is renowned for its forward-thinking music policy and its progressive club ideology which this first record attempts to capture this in the abstract language of electronic music. Oscillate “alumni” Roza Terenzi and D. Tiffany lead the way for the label with two Electro-breaks cuts that take their cues from various aspects of club music in a kind of assemblage of what the club night represents.

From D.Tiffany’s hoover synth echoing in the distance on “Spirit Alien” to Roza Terenzi’s lysergic 303 bass movements on “Electronique”, there’s a nod to the common threads of the  past with a view to the future as they pull various influences into the space of each trac,. The two seasoned producers have a distinct handle of their individual craft, but where they crossover in the realm of a more open musical palette, is where the sound of Oscillate thrives.

 

Adlas – Arrival By Air (Answer Code Request) 12″ restock – link

It seems that we’re pretty much sticking to Electro and breakbeats on this edition, but from one end of the spectrum to the other with this new artist arriving out of nowhere on Answer Code Request’s label. There was some speculation that Adlas was a new Answer Code Request alias, but a picture of a boyish visage bathed in a hue of blue on discogs put that  rumour to bed… thanks to Roland.

Four, stark bass-heavy tracks ensue with Adlas using syncopated kicks and broken snares to cut through wispy veils of electronic mist. “Search Signal” is the closest the producer comes to a four-four Techno sound, while retaining the sonic nature of the rest of the EP. The producer makes his debut with all the experience of veteran so it’s clear why people might mistake this for ACR, but this EP stands on its own, and although there are some similarities to UK Bass artists like Manni Dee, Adlas music shies away from common tropes in search of something unique in the club music realm.

Ending on the heady force of “Tidal Lock”, Adlas leaves a severe impression on his debut release. The artist doesn’t quite imbibe the affronting spirit of Flint, but the music, like all the other pieces represent the audacious spirit that Keith Flint’s character left on the scene. The bulk at the status quo and sneer at musical conformity as bold, individual pieces.

 

Kala announces international parties series

Kala festival will be back in their little corner of paradise in Albania in the summer of 2019, but before they do, Aka Juan and Ollie Shapiro will be taking the show on the road with an International party series. A little amuse-bouche ahead of the main even, Juan and Ollie will bring a little bit of Kala to Jaeger too for this series. They’re trip is a double threat as they pile Øyvind Morken, Olanskii and Prins Thomas into the back of their van, making a b-line for the albanaian coast, where our residents will play along other musical heavyweights like Theo Parrish, Honey Dijon, François K, Jayda G and Midland.

“We are joining forces with some of our favourite clubs and promoters across Europe to get us ready for the summer,” announced Kala today. “The Kala tour bus will be visiting three beautiful cities before heading to Dhërmi in June. Some of the acts on the Kala line-up will be joining our residents at three top parties for a taster of what’s to come this summer in the Riviera.” You can find out more from Kala’s Facebook page.

Tickets for Marcel Dettmann are now available

We’ve released a limited amount of pre-sale tickets for Retro pres. Marcel Dettmann with Daniel Gude. There will still be tickets available on the door on the night for this event, but now you can secure you’re place for the 4hr Marcel Dettmann set in our basement on the night. The tickets are available here and you can find out more about the event here.

Marcel Dettmann makes his annual return to Jaeger for Retro and like before we’ve just given him the keys to the basement. For the last few years he’s returned to the EBM, synthwave and early German Techno musical flavours of his youth playing to more intimate crowds like our basement and the Dekmantel Selectors stage.

He’s been recently anointed a BBC radio resident too, where he’s brought his unique musical palette to the radio for the first time. You can listen to the first show below and read an interview with the artist from our archives here.

Funk with a sinister edge with Melkeveien

It’s been about a year since Kristian Møller Johansen released his last track as Melkeveien. “Homecoming” came out in the summer of  2018, about a year on from the single before that “Sove På Det”. So it only makes sense that his next release, “Hockey Pizza” should come out a year on from the last to perpetuate the sequence.

Kristian breaks in to a hearty chuckle over the phone as I ask him about his annual release schedule; as if it’s not the first time the annual onsistency has occurred to him.“Hockey Pizza” is still at the mastering studio when I call him up for this interview, and Kristian won’t let me hear a single note until these final touches are applied to the record and it is finished to the degree he expects.

* Cover art by Kåre Magnus Bergh Design by Jette Graaner

The focus for “Hockey Pizza” was on a more “organic, live sound”  than the previous records like “Homecoming,” which was composed from “more programmed and sample based stuff” according to Kristian. “Homecoming” took strains of Disco and Acid and brought them together in the realm of DIY electronica. Rumbling bass lines, syncopated beats and swathes of synthetic textures streaking across the popular song structure, established the sound Melkeveien had been cultivating since “Sove på Det.”

Kristian tells me this is due to evolve on “Hockey Pizza” with a “drummer playing drums rather than a drum machine” lending a different “energy” to these new songs. Guitarist Fredrik Ryberg and keyboard virtuoso Ole Anders Røberg also feature heavily on the forthcoming “mini-EP”, which with Knut Sævik (Mungolian Jet Set) at the mixing controls, gives it more of a live band sound than the solo pursuits of Kristian in the Melkeveien records before it.

It’s a structure that’s more suited for the live show that accompanies this release and will be making its way to Jaeger for the official Oslo release of the new record. “We’re focussing on the band stuff” Kristian tells me in light of the forthcoming release party. The band consisting of Kristian and Embert Johnsen on samplers/keys and John Birkeland Hansen on drums is a fusion of “live and sequenced” material that can easily mutate from a concert venue to a club.

Together they’ve come in to their own as a band, which will result in more recorded material says Kristian, but will also ultimately return to the “more club focussed” sound of “Peter Pan Death Wish” in future releases.

It was “Peter Pan Death Wish”, released in 2014 that first brought the Melkeveien project to the fore. The track found its way on the trailer for the Lynne Ramsay film “You were never really here” starring Joaquin Phoenix and gained a lot of exposure for Melkeveien abroad with  the London Times calling it “essential listening” at the time. That would ultimately reverberate back home too, giving some favourable reception to the single and the EPs that followed.

“People seemed to like that record” says Kristian in a very self-effacing way as “Peter Pan Death Wish” continues to rack up streams over half a million on Spotify. With its plucking sequenced synth and its elastic rhythm and bass, the single would live on beyond the trailer soundtrack to the club floor and bring the label Dødpop to the fore.

Dødpop is a label Kristian runs with Bård Farbu and Robert Jomisko, born out of the brief but significant Skweee wave at the turn of the decade. A “pan-Scandinavian” musical phenomenon out of the era of Myspace, Skweee was a kind of DIY, cut-n-paste Electro that shares a very similar ideology to what lo-fi House does today.

“I don’t consider myself making Skweee anymore,” says Kristian. “The Melkeveien thing is a free thing”, avoiding strict formats for something that can flow effortlessly between his musical influences. If urged to describe his music, he calls it “funk with a sinister edge” and the results find themselves somewhere between Ratatat and Lindstrøm, but really defies categorisation beyond the electronica reference.

Growing up in Hamar, Kristian had a varied musical upbringing. His first foray into music was in a Hip Hop group in the late nineties, although he never considered the group a success, at least not outside the Hamar area.

“That didn’t evolve into anything,” but it did lay a foundation into production, bolstered by an early interest in computer music. “’I’ve been into producing music on computers since 1998, starting with FastTracker and music floppy discs,” says Kristian. He started making music with Niels Thiessen (Mandagsklubben & Brokesteady) in Hamar and released his first record as Mr. Nguyen in 2004, a track called “Hiroshima Hookers” on Sekur Beats. He describes it as a “dancy and quirky” record with references to Warp records and today you can still hear the grassroots of what would become Melkeveien in that record.  

Kristian, Bård and Robert then eventually established Dødpop after trading some tracks online, and noticing some very sonic similarities, similarities that were contemporary with the musical epoch and would eventually lead to the creation of the Skweee genre.

Kristian adopted the name Melkeveien from his street in Hamar which went beyond Skweee to an all-encompassing electronic sound with elements of Disco, Electro and Synthwave coursing through its foundations.

Today Melkeveien switches between being a solo project and a fully fledged band and Kristian reiterates that it brings “a different energy” to the project  “when the band plays together.” With John Birkeland Hansen in situ there’s that tactile and visual interpretation of the rhythm, which when experienced in the live context, is a very vivifying expression of the beat.

Beyond this live show, there will be a tour in Norway promoting “Hockey Pizza”, and a new track will be released on Prins Thomas’ Full Pupp label evry soon. Kristian is certain there will “absolutely be an ep and album” in the future and if there’s any merit in the consistency of releases thus far, then 2020 looks like an exciting year for Melkeveien.

Album of the week: Sound Stream – Love Remedy

German producer and DJ, Frank Timm has been resolute in the singular pursuit in his music. Since the late 90’s he’s been releasing records as Sound Stream, Soundhack and SSOL on labels created solely for each musical endeavour. The only time he’s ever veered from this undeviating path was a couple of exclusive pieces for the Ostgut Ton label as Soundstore, but they undulated little from the sound he’s cultivated across his releases. Tracks like “‘Live’ goes on” and “All Night” are dance floor classics today with a relationship between Hardwax and Timms facilitating the eccentric vision of the isolated producer and the exclusive labels that bare his craft.

Timm’s music across his monikers is an assemblage of deconstructed samples, expertly re-arranged and constructed for modern dance floors. Always avoiding obvious over-sampled references, Sound Stream et al is informed by Black, American music, repurposed for the hedonistic, nocturnal pursuits of today. His work is best suited for darkened German, musical bunkers where a high energy prevails and a tougher percussive arrangement is expected. Now, for the first time his channeled these efforts into an LP.

Love Remedy is a collection old, unreleased tracks and some new material with the same kind of resolute attitude that courses through all his EP’s and 12″. You’ll find no album-filler track or the mood stifling, experimental ambient inclusion on Love Remedy but rather ten tracks of unadulterated fun for the dance floor.  Sweeping Disco strings and bouncing Funk bass-lines remain the order of the day in Timm’s work, but tracks like “Get Down” and “Right Back” offer more than just the functional and develop a little further from their central themes.

The context for Love Remedy however remains strictly on the dance floor and all its efforts is still directed at the body. Timm’s skills at manipulating only the bare essentials of a sample to his devices so that the effects of that all-mighty rhythm section are never subdued is a masterclass in modern sampling techniques. Where edits like these will often get muddied up by the original sample, Timms has a way of giving it enough room to make its impression without overpowering the thunderous drums rolling in behind it.

Love Remedy is yet another solid piece of work from the Sound Stream name and while it will hold no surprises for those familiar with the sound Timms maintains as an artist, Love Remedy is also an effectual doorway into this music for the uninitiated, looking for something more than just a DJ tool.

 

Life after Mo Wax with James Lavelle

Do you think you’d ever want to start another label like Mo Wax again? “Sometimes I do” says James Lavelle, and then there’s a moment – a very brief moment–  as he considers the question … “in a nostalgic way, but in a sense of where we are right now, I don’t think so. I don’t really want to do that right now.”

In 1992 at a mere 18 years of age a precocious James Lavelle, alongside Tim Goldsworthy started what would become one of the most successful independent record labels of all time in the form of Mo Wax. With James as the driving force behind a group of kindred spirits and proficient artists, the label essentially invented Trip-Hop (although James never liked the term himself); launched the careers of a new generation of producers like DJ Shadow, Kool Keith and DJ Krush; and released seminal albums like Endtroducing (DJ Shadow), Psyence Fiction (UNKLE) and Meiso (DJ Krush) through their formidable and explosive tenure. “Mo Wax felt like a band in which I was the lead singer,” James told the independent back in 2014 “But there’s a point where you have to go ‘OK, we’re done’. The whole thing had lost its momentum and I was pretty burnt out.”

By 2002 Mo Wax was defunct and most of its catalogue was sold to Universal music while working relationships at Mo Wax strained as rifts deepened between some of the core group of artists. A new documentary, The man from Mo Wax puts this all into perspective with the director Matthew Jones cut and pasting found and recorded footage together – like his subjects would pieces of records. Framing those tumultuous years in the context of an ailing record industry and the fracturing community towards the end of Mo Wax’s lifetime, the documentary looks to offer a personal perspective on the life and times of James Lavelle during his time at Mo Wax.

“It is what it is” James told Clash Magazine about the film, “and I think what it’s done is it’s allowed something to have that feel and that honesty and that truth, even though it’s not my film and they do have their agenda.”  That agenda is an intense roller coaster ride through the biography of Mo Wax “which at some points maybe focus more on the lows” than James would care for. He reiterated this sentiment in a recent Resident Advisor Exchange, but today he’s “glad it is out” because it’s been “ten years of a strange journey.”

The period directly after Mo’Wax “was all about rebuilding” for James he tells me over a call to his home in the UK. He poured himself completely into his work and his main musical focus, UNKLE.  He started DJing a lot more too and then work on Never Never Land began, the anticipated follow-up to UNKLE’s debut LP, Psyence Fiction. In 1998 Psyence Fiction was one of the highest grossing releases of the decade and one of the last of its kind as the record industry faced the unprecedented challenges of selling records in the digital age and the Internet.

Never Never Land, and any record after,  would never again reach physical numbers like Psyence Fiction, but the sophomore record still reached number 24 on the UK album charts and number 6 in Billboard US Dance Charts when it was released. Never Never Land also begat a relationship with Island Records which lead to Surrender all, the label that became James’ exclusive platform for UNKLE for over ten years where records like War Stories came to life.

While the documentary paints a vivid picture of a fractured community at the end of Mo Wax James insists that “Surrender all was still based around the community at Mo Wax.” UNKLE too still had “a lot of people still involved from Mo Wax” and a lot of the people James worked with “for years continue to be involved” today in the musical project and the latest record label that facilitates all the UNKLE material, Songs for the Def. A hybrid title with references to the classic Hip Hop label Def Jam and the prominent Queens of the Stone age album Songs for the Deaf, it collates the diverse range of influences UNKLE continues to appropriate in its all-encompassing sound.

James made his debut on Songs for the Def with The Road Part I in 2017, with its successor primed for release in March 2019. The records are orchestrated from the very same collaborative principles that established UNKLE with Psyence Fiction as broken beats and cinematic textures converge in radio friendly song formats, produced and recorded at the highest level with a host of talented musicians and artists.

*James Lavelle plays a Mo Wax set at Jaeger this Friday. 

Relationships with the likes of Queens of the Stone Age continue to make impressions on his and their material (James co-wrote “Like Clockwork” from Queens of the Stone Age’s LP of the same name), while UNKLE also continues to assimilate new artists like Miink in its work too.

“Luckily, I was young when Mo Wax started and pretty young when it finished so I was able to start a whole other chapter,” James told the Independent. Life after Mo Wax was a period of intense creativity for James Lavelle that at an artistic level overshadows his time at Mo Wax. He curated Meltdown festival; released the majority of UNKLE records; made music for films; toured UNKLE live; made music for other artists; and also staked his claim as world renowned DJ during this time – the latter somewhat aided, but not completely dependent on four contributions to the Global Underground series.

The relationship with Global Underground happened much in the same way as all the other musical relationships happen in James’ life it seems; the result of coincidence and the circles he moved in. He was a resident at Fabric and very prominent on the “big international DJ circuit” at the time GU approached him.

“At the time it was a very bold thing to do,” he remembers “because the divides in electronic music were very large.” He jumped at the chance however and took it as a “great opportunity” to present “what the perception of a DJ mix within the context of the style of music, in the context of Global underground” could be. The last mix he did for the label was a mix of pure UNKLE material and while he doesn’t “DJ as much anymore“ he still demands a great level of respect from the DJ community for his work at the decks.

James started DJing at the prodigious age of 17, playing places like the legendary Fridge in Brixton. “I grew up on people like DJ Harvey and Giles Peterson as well as Hip Hop DJs” he says when I ask him about his early DJ influences. He’s always favoured UK DJs because they were always more dexterous in the booth compared to their American counterparts. UK DJs were always “more eclectic and much less divided” according to James. James’ own introduction to Djing would come from the traditional  record store roots, and today his skills are the cumulative result of his extensive music career and his early appreciation for record culture.

Growing up in Oxford, he made regular jaunts to London where he began to “discover records in a different way,” he explains in a loving vinyl interview. “I was going to London to do kung fu when I was 13 or 14. It was in Chinatown and I realised that area, around Soho, is where all the good record shops are.” He soon found a job at the legendary Honest Jon’s in Portobello Road, where he could nurture his latent skills as the musical curator that would underpin his work at Mo Wax.

These skills have hardly left him today as he still curates groups of artists around the UNKLE project and his record bag as a DJ. “I’m interested in music in all areas and I’m interested in discovering old records and contemporary records,” he says when I ask him about his buying habits today. In the age of the Internet he finds a never-ending source of new and old music. “As the world opens up more people discover these records that they haven’t discovered before,” and James counts himself as one of these people. From “African funk to turkish psychedelia all these things happen as the world becomes more accessible.”

Although James is less likely to find new things from the nineties, the period where he was most active as a DJ, producer and label owner, “there is so many things constantly” coming into his purview, from those ethnocentric records from the past to new Hip Hop from the likes of Marlowe.

How has his experience of DJing and record culture changed from the time he had been at the height of Mo Wax? “It depends on the context,” he says. It’s a very “commercialised and Americanised” arena today with a lot of the dynamic shifting from the actual DJ to the “success of the songs” a DJ releases as a producer, but in many other ways it remains unchanged for James. The disparity between various sects of club culture between the margins and the more popularised forms of the same culture “have always existed” according to James. In the “nineties you had Cream and Robert Miles” and today “it’s just amplified.” James puts it down to the “much bigger scene of club culture” that exists today, but he is optimistic that this “is a positive thing”.

Even so, he doesn’t see himself ever trying to establish something at the level of Mo Wax today. “It takes a lot of time and investment in other people’s lives to make a record,” he explains and he doesn’t think his head is in the right place to try it again. “I don’t want to be responsible for the careers of of other artist,” he explains and so he’s much happier focussing purely on his own creative endeavours at UNKLE. ”I did Mo Wax and I had that experience and the way things are now is that I have a similar experience with what I do with UNKLE because it’s collaborative in many different ways.”

There’s never a hint of any regret or resentment for Mo Wax and on occasion he’ll even put together a full set of Mo Wax material. “I’m proud of the records I released at the time,” he explains but it’s clear that that era of his life is not what defines him as an artist today. He’s gone on to pursue his creative endeavour as UNKLE; established a couple of labels; and while working at XL even hired the person that would go on to sign Adelle to that label. And according to an interview in Clash Magazine “there are many more” things that were left unsaid, especially in the documentary. James Lavelle is a multi-faceted artist and DJ, one whose career and life after Mo Wax is enough material for whole other documentary series.

The cut with Filter Musikk – Klasse Wrecks special

A distinct aesthetic theme emerged as Roland Lifjell unpacked the new batch of records over the weekend. Noisy monotone greyscale sleeves, repurposing some ninety-nineties fanzine visual aesthetic made up the bulk of the latest arrivals. Artists from the leftfield corroborated the theme and it was immedeately clear this wasn’t some trend-informed visual anomaly seeping through the vinyl market, but rather the visual identity of one, unique label. That label is Klasse Wrecks. With a fair share of records coming in via the label and its subsidiaries we thought we’d take a different approach to the cut with Filter Musikk this week with a special edition dedicated to latest arrivals from the label.

Klasse Wrecks is the combined effort of Lucas Hunter (aka Luca Lozano) and Michael Ho (aka Mr. Ho), a label that has emerged out of a very close-knit community of artists. “Klasse, Zodiac and Grafiti Tapes are basically labels enabling the interaction of my friends, it’s a small family,” Hunter told Inverted Audio in an interview from 2016. The family includes artists like Fett Burger, Johanna Knutsson and Phran with Hunter and Ho contributing their fair share to the discography and Hunter’s enigmatic artwork presenting the music in visual terms through his very distinct aesthetic.

“There are a few words that spring to mind when thinking about my work;” Hunter told Stamp the Wax, “DIY, outsider, rough, raw, bold…” and that’s a fair indication of the type of music that dots the Klasse Wrecks back-catalogue. Very rarely confined to the strict parameters of a genre or style, the artists and records that feature on Klasse Wrecks, including all its subsidiaries, move between elements of House, Electro, Techno, break-beats and even Trance. It’s not in any particular sonic identity, but rather in the very same attitude that signifies Hunter’s visual aesthetic; “DIY, outsider, rough, raw, bold.”

“I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything,” Hunter told Stamp the Wax, “people are free to be their own masters. I approach work with the intent to make a striking, simple, effective and sometimes humorous piece of work, if I’ve done those things then I feel I have done my job.” For the record enthusiast and collector this particular approach strikes a very harmonious chord, and making it impossible not to pick up a Klasse Wrecks record, whenever you’re in the presence of one.

Releasing music since 2014 with a consistent release schedule, Klasse Wrecks has garnered a very sincere and dedicated following, which in the last year has become a major source of inspiration for other labels too. If that Cardopusher LP on Boys Noize Records looks familiar it is because it was made by Hunter and if there is a sound that is currently dominating the leftfield DJ circuit it is very likely to contain a few Klasse Wrecks records. We’ll try and unravel just exactly what the appeal is to the label in this week’s edition of the Cut with Filter Musikk, a Klasse Wrecks special.

 

Memphis – Around The World / Lost Lands (Klasse Wrecks) 12″

Who would’ve thought progressive House would be a thing in 2019?  But in the spirit of Klasse Wrecks’ self-effacing manner, Memphis (Paul Williams) puts a contemporary spin on the genre for the label. Upholding that rough, bold and DIY ethos, Memphis gets dirty with a lurid bass movement tarnishing the lower frequencies while pitched percussive sounds bounce between the bars.

“Around the world” and “Lost Lands” are essentially two interpretations of the same track with that chunky bass underpinning both tracks. While the AA side “Lost Lands” favours a more minimalist approach “Around the world“ looks to a more bolder formation. Incorporating some exotic world influences and with EBM-style yelps dotting the extensive sojourn around the globe, “Around the World” offers something immediate over “Lost Lands” and its more transient, progressive sounds.

 

Dos Ritmos – Antropophony (Klasse Wrecks) 12″

Luca Lozano and Phran are Dos Ritmos. Klasse Wrecks are as much a collaborative community as it is a vehicle for these separate artists and Dos Ritmos is hardly the only project to be born out of the community behind the label. A down-tempo percussive project “Antropophony” is their first outing together with a kind of tongue-in-cheek approach to tribal and ethnic subsects of the House genre.

Five tracks favour a tougher approach to music that samples ritualistic percussive library pieces. Dos Ritmos, combine these polyrhythmic devices with synthesizers and sonic atmospheres that re-contextualises them as something more ominous and enigmatic, sucking any spiritual or trancedal association out of these sampled pieces. These aren’t mere House tracks built around a piece of distant library music, but rather a post-modern assemblage of primordial ritual music and the contemporary interpretation of such musical rituals as they happen in clubs all around the world today.

The mysterious and sinister “Cuero” and the dub-heavy “Repeater” are some of the more interesting examples of this dichotomy at play, but all five tracks have something to offer in that regard. From the expressive vocal arrangement of “Masque” and “Yanomani” or the polyrhythmic design of “High Volta” there’s something incredibly alluring to these tracks, even for somebody that has never really enjoyed the tribal connotations in electronic music. It’s the first time something really new has been achieved with that kind of music for a long time.

 

The Horn – The Counter Counter Offer EP (Klasse Wrecks) 12″

Last year Luca Lozano dug through the archives with a remix of The Horn’s “The Villager” from 1996. Steve Horne was only active for a brief moment in the mid nineties, making Balearic-inspired electronica through the Evolution imprint. And although his actual output might be quite reserved, he was nothing short of a prolific producer and apparently has recorded a fair amount of unsigned demos since. Klasse Wrecks unearthed some of these for a new EP of original material from the veteran producer.

“‘The Counter Counter Offer’ EP collates music produced between 1994 and 2018 and offers them up as an introduction into the world of the The Horn and his music making process,” says the blurb from the label.

The EP harks back to a more adventurous time in electronic music, where it was expected to push the boundaries of music to the outermost limits of human understanding. Digital synthesisers and computer music technology coming into its own during this period, saw people like Horne sculpting intoxicating, alien landscapes never heard before in a musical context. “Schmaltz” and “M1LF” are prime examples of this at work as off-kilter sonic anomalies counteract the beatific melodic arrangements.  

It’s on the more “traditional” tracks like “Hermit House” and “Trinity” where Horne’s music is at its most captivating as it indeed makes its counter counter offer to the barren, lifeless sound that dominates contemporary club floors. Innocent melodic exchanges in an opaque harmonic atmosphere leave a little more on the bone around the House-informed rhythm sections.

 

Karlos Moran – Mmg003 (Moran Music Group) 12″

Moran Music Group is the newest subsidiary of the Klasse Wrecks family and the exclusive vehicle for Karlos Moran, who adds the third installment in the Moran Music Group discography. We don’t know who Karlos Moran is, but it’s quite likely that it is somebody from the Klasse Wrecks family operating under a pseudonym.

Mmg003 is a very balearic record, with luscious keys and synthesised pipes floating on a liquid bed of House beats. Interlacing rhythms from an percussive orchestra coaxed from drum machines offer staccato counterpoint to the languid melodic arrangements, where the tracks appear both punchy and delicate at the same time.  

It’s music that’s evocative of an Iberian beach scene in the late eighties, including cabana shirts, cocktails in coconuts, and sun-drenched mustachioed men. You can almost smell the Coppertone tanning lotion on a track like “Kosmos”.

 

Luca Lozano, DJ Fett Burger – Hands Of Doom 2 (Klasse Wrecks) 12″

“REPRESS PLEASE REPRESS PLEASE REPRESS REPRESS PLEASE REPRESS PLEASE REPRESS !!!!!!!!!!;”  the people shouted on discogs and Klasse Wrecks accommodated. Fett Burger and Luca Lozano’s collaborative EP “Hands of Doom 2” is back on the shelves. The nineties-leaning, slowed down rave record was one of the best received records ever to make it out of Klasse Wrecks stable. It combined the playful Norwegian flair of Fett Burger with the UK roots of Luca Lozano in one of the most successful collaborations featuring either of these artists. The breakbeat arrangements, and the sidelong swipes at cues from early rave music – like that pitched hoover on “Signalrød” – makes for intriguing and captivating listening, especially in the context of a dance floor.

That sort of idiosyncratic cut-n-paste approach, where artists lend from familiar tropes, but make it their own with wholly individual take on these clichés are everything that Klasse Wrecks is about for this listener. Taking something familiar, fucking it up beyond all recognition, and then presenting it to its audience as something completely new, runs through every release on the Klasse Wrecks discography from the music to the artwork. The sights and sounds of Klasse Wrecks might be in vogue at the moments as trends conspired around it, but the label is certainly in a class of its own. For the last four years and beyond, they’ve quietly carved out a very niche sound and aesthetic that many are trying to copy or even appropriate as their own today, but there will always be only one original.

 

Album of the week: 7th Plain – Chronicles III

Luke Slater returns with his ambient-leaning Techno alias, 7th Plain for the third part in a compilation series from the Ostgut Ton family’s A-TON imprint. The label, whose first release was Chronicles I back in 2016, continues in its efforts to archive and document Slater’s extensive back-catalogue with the third instalment in the series. Recorded throughout the nineties, and collated on a hand-full of LPs and EPs, Chronicles is a hermitically-sealed, musical time capsule that has preserved some of the finest ambient Techno ever recorded for the next generation.

It’s music that has aged gracefully over the last twenty years, and it still stands up today in the current musical landscape. Back in the nineties when this was originally made, music like this sounded like it came from the future and today it feels like time has finally caught up with the music. With some modern mastering touches applied, it sounds the best it has ever been as Luke Slater’s expert hands at crafting expressive layers from synthesisers clearly comes to the fore now after some digital tweaks.

It sounds like the artist and producer has filled all the available space with sound. Densely orchestrated pieces made from an arsenal of synthesisers and drum machines fill every moment of every track, but somehow it still manages to retain an airy presence on the record.

Familiar titles like “Reality of Space” and “Excalibur’s Radar” are there, taken from the two landmark albums, “The 4 Cornered Room” and “My yellow Wise Rug” and sit side by side each other, putting into perspective the incredibly fertile creativity of the artist as 7th Plain during this period. The series seems to conclude with this third instalment, with tracks taken solely from the aforementioned two LPs and many people online suggesting that it is the finest of the triptych.

While Luke Slater has continued to make music under various guises like Planetary Assault Systems and L.B Dub Corp, he had never again really resurrected the 7th Plain until the Chronicles series, by which time it had been steeped in its own mythic lore. It’s curious why Luke Slater never again made music as the 7th Plain and why even today with so much interest in that music, he’s not made any new music under that moniker.

The renewed interest in this music and A-TON’s work in cataloguing the music and framing it in the Chronicles context has installed this music today as a bonafide classic series of works from one of the finest Techno projects that ever existed.

Jayda G on the Essential Mix

Last night Jayda G stepped up to the essential mix for two hours of Disco, House, Gospel and R&B which is available to stream via BBC and a few Mixcloud stations like the one below.  The mix comes a month before the much anticipated debut LP, “Significant Changes” coming out via Ninja Tune and it’s a week before the Canadian DJ and producer joins g-HA & Olanskii in the booth for Frædag.

Classic Disco, House and Gospel from the likes of Gladys Knight, Mr. G and Ron Trent course through the set, setting a pre-party Friday mood for this mix that could carry on into the early hours of the morning to any musical dimension.  The mix includes “Significant Changes and Beyond” taken from her upcoming LP at the heart of this mix and a couple surprises from Faith Evans Seu Jorge at the very end for a very comprehensive mix.

Premiere: Center of the Universe – Flash Forward (Endless Winther Flutemix)

At the center of the universe is a musician, surrounded by his instruments, collected from around the world. Center if the Universe is Jørgen Sissyfus, the unconventional artist and DJ at the heart of an expansive musical universe that covers the entire musical globe.  Channeling elements from traditional folk music from various regions through a modern electronic music palette Center of the Universe makes beatific albums with purposeful themes in the style of DIY left-field pop music.

Since the turn of the century Jørgen has been releasing LPs and EPs under the Metronomicon Audio imprint out of Oslo, following a very DIY approach. Underpinning his music, there’s a pseudo mysticism that flows forth from his music, which when combined by the striking themes of records like “Taking a nap with the Center of the Universe” and “Selected Modulations”, brings something exotic to the fore.

From the abstract, where Center of the Universe’s music is informed by ideas like space and time to the very literal form his lyrics can sometimes take, Center of the Universe skirts a line between something severely cognitive and very innocent. Although he’ll often collaborate with other artist (most notably on signing with the Center of the Universe) Center of the Universe is very much a one man show, but on his most recent record, he’s opted for a very different approach, putting his very idiosyncratic sounds in the hands of other producers for a change.

Expansion Pack, which will be officially released tomorrow, is a collection of remixes from Center of the Universe’s back-catalogue from remix artists across the globe. Original pieces have been re-interpreted by the likes of Magnus International, Boblebad and Sloth UK through 10 tracks and today we have the privilege of premiering the opening track, “Flash Forward (Endless Winther Flutemix)” on the blog while we chat to Jørgen Sissyfus about the new record and his upcoming gig at Jaeger for Vinny Villbass and Daniel Vaz’ Badabing.

Tell me about the origins of the EP and some of the ideas that informed it?

(It’s not an EP it’s a full length of mixes!)
The last years I have been releasing some EP’s and albums, most of them with names commenting the format, like Extended Play and Maxi Single Last year we did Singing with the Center of the Universe where 8 singers made songs to my beats. This is not really commenting the format, but now we’re back to that with Expansion Pack, which is the name of this collection of mixes.

Why these particular remix artists?

This release started with producers asking me to do mixes of some of my songs, the results were great in my ears, and I asked some of my favourites like Mesak and Magnus International to do mixes so it would add up to an album. It’s wonderful having people like Sloth UK and Endless Winther to voluntarily do mixes, I am very happy that they have faith in my music! All of the mixes are quite different from the originals, and Toshybot even made a love song from one of my instrumentals.

I don’t assume you have any favourites, but which remix took you most by surprise?

I got the remix from Guvi straight after I played in Germany and he heard my track. He was so quick and I was super happy about the sound of it. Now that’s a year ago, so I am very glad we’ll get this out. I hope some Norwegians will check out his music now.

There’s always a kind of mysticism to the atmosphere to your records. What outside of music inspires you?

I would say I am very inspired by the endless topic of curiosa in all its myriad forms. I am also thinking a lot about time, space and both the very small and enormous things in the universe. The physics and science of sound is also an inspiration, even if it’s both outside and containing music.

Your music seems to channel melodic and harmonic structures taken from folksy traditions, channeled through a modern electronic palette. Where and how do these elements converge for you as an artist? How does it reflect your own musical upbringing?

As a DJ I used to play a lot of folk music and music from around the globe, both original and hybrids/edits. I also used to play bass in a band that played arabic music, kurdish music and music from balkan and greece when I was young. I grew up with that (and electronic music) even if it was and very far from the norm where I grew up. It’s quite natural for me to add some elements from this music, but I don’t want it to be a pastiche. It’s not supposed to be bread with some spice on top, but a well baked børek. Off course it would be easy to attack this as cultural appropriation, but DJ’s from the areas I “borrow” from are among the people that play my tracks the most.

This record is all remixes; “Selected Modulations” was like a homage to synthesisers; and “Singing with center of the universe” was all about the vocalists. What is your working process for these albums and their very distinct themes? Do you find the theme solidify around the album or do you have an idea laid out before you even record a single note?

I really used to start with an idea of something cool to do or make, and after that it’s the same process again but for every track. Most of my recent tracks starts with a “what if”. A very concrete example is a track from Extended Play called Acid Rembetiko which is “about” what would happen if you fuse greek traditional music in 9/4 with Acid house. I have a lot of stupid experiments, but I have to be happy with the actual musical output to use them.

 *Expansion Pack is out tomorrow via bandcamp

 

What will be the source of inspiration for your next work?

Good question, I have already started making what will be the Unknown album. It will be one for the dancefloor, and obviously it will be packed with riddles and mysteries!

You collaborate a lot with other artists. Why is it so conducive for you?

Since I do everything (also mixing and mastering) for C.O.U. it is even more important to have input from others. Actually it’s bordering on a paradox, I’m the Center of the Universe, but the project is very much about relating to, and collaborating with other people, also the people listening to the music.

You’re performing live at Jæger this Saturday, and it won’t just be you on your own. You’ve you assembled for the live band and what will it sound like?

There will be Singing with the Center of the Universe this saturday, so four singers are coming along to sing their songs. Apart from them it’s me playing different instruments. We are really looking forward to playing at Jaeger, it’s a great place for electronic music!

Album of the week: Espen T. Hangård – Elementær

After making his debut in the world of Electro last year with the stunning  Primær, Espen T. Hangård is back with another LP, Elementær. The sophomore LP, released less than three months on from his first, suggests Hangård’s furore into electronic music is more than a fleeting fancy as he marks his intentions with another eight cuts of bristling energy. Elementær was captured during the same recording sessions as Primær between 2009 and 2012, and features Hangård in the a creative frenzy, coaxing beatific arrangements from lifeless machines.

Skipping Electro beats and lysergic bass movements, bounce through phrases in the spirit of Kraftwerk with a hint of Aphex Twin through expansive textured layers. Like Primær, Elementær harks back to the origins of the genre, where innocent melodies and song structures lifted from popular forms of music coalesce in that creative cauldron that not only birthed the earliest Electro and therefore Techno, but also Hip Hop. Short, effective pieces with a stocky determinism, make punchy entries, before moving on to the next track.

Simplicity is at the core of Hangård’s work with a no-frills approach to Electro and breakbeats. Building the foundation of his music on the rudimentary constructs of Electro where Roland X0X machines engage in a musical dialogue with each other, Espen T. Hangård is not breaking any new ground for the genre, but in his fundamental approach, he manages to capture something perfect and pure. Hangård’s expressive melodic nature, negates any designs on the dance floor for music where function will yet again follow form to engage with its listeners at a instinctive level.

Shimmering pads and multi-layered textures, temper the fast-paced rhythm sections of tracks like “Atlas Reconfiguration” and “Trampoline” with a kind of wistful serenity clouding the productions. Alongside Primær, Elementær establishes Espen T Hangård’s sonic signature as an electronic music artist, offering a view from the side with regards to Electro and broken beat music as he proffers his interpretation of the origins of this music.

Greetings from Jaeger – The New Website

Back in 2016, we took a step back from the ongoing manual labour, dusted off our overalls, and saw that it was good. A month of renovation, remodelling our bar upstairs, building new restrooms and gutting the staircase made a significant impact. We were still polishing glasses while pumping those first beers from the new bar, and even Ola (he, who is always tinkering) took a moment to admire the handy work.

Only a moment though, because there’s always something to be done. In reality, those renovations never really ended. Work has steadily commenced with a splash of paint, a light fixture and even a wall appearing dotting the timeline since 2016. It’s an ever on-going process as Jaeger continues to evolve and grow, one that will most likely never see an end, but that’s just the nature of the thing.

There was one thing however that we’ve always been meaning to get to throughout it all, but had to neglect for more essential upgrades and changes. As the interior, the soundsystem and the DJs kept changing with the times our virtual presence receded further and further back into the past. Finally it got to  a point where it no longer represented what Jaeger had become so it was time to update our website. With the help of the very patient team at Baggy, we’re proud to present jaegeroslo.no 2.0. We’ve been working on it for two years and with some delays, some false starts and some new beginnings, baggy finally put it together in two months.

It’s a virtual presence that now matches, or even rivals our physical attributes, and frames all that content we’ve been working on over these past years in its rightful idiom. It’s not merely a facelift, but comes with a few new additions that will put our residents, our events, the mixes, the pictures and our blog directly at your fingertips.

As in every aspect of of Jaeger our residents always comes first, and it’s always been our intention to have a dedicated home for our residents both in the physical realm and now in the digital realm too.You’ll find all of them on the resident page at jaegeroslo.no, with their biographies, latest mixes and releases, and some very important links available. All 18 of them are on there like a trumps card pack, with links to each individual artist from there events.

Our events should also be more accessible than ever, with an option to add to your google calendar. (Updates with ical to follow eventually). For the longest time we’ve been fed-up with social media (especially facebook’s event feature) and the way it’s taken ownership over the internet. We spend a lot of time and effort on bookings, logistics and sound,and artwork for all our events to be formatted in some slow, basic html framework that looks as shit at it works. You’ll still find our events on facebook, but our website be catalogued further in to the future for the more musical curious amongst you.

Our blog will remain a focal point in this new addition of jaegeroslo.no with the same kind of content, and more, gracing its pages, which will also including a dedicated page for the Jæger mix series. At the moment it’s still very much a one-man operation, but it has always been my intention in making the blog a dedicated music blog with features, interviews, reviews and op-ed pieces, not just for our residents and visiting guests, but for the entire oslo clubbing community and its music. A one-man operation won’t sustain this lofty ambition so we’ll be looking for contributors in this next instalment of jaegeroslo.no.

If you want to write for our blog email me at editor@jaegeroslo.no. Whether you want to ask your favourite DJ some questions; talk about an artist or record you admire; share a story of a night out; or getting something about music off your chest; we’ve always wanted the blog to reflect the community. If words aren’t your thing however, and you’re more of a visual person, we’ve also got you covered, and our new gallery page is there for your pictures.

This is yet another new phase in this ever-evolving organism that is Jaeger, but like everything else it is and will always be a work-in-progress and together with the people at Baggy we’ll be developing the site more in the future. But now, it’s time to dust off the old overalls again, kick back with Daniel Gude and enjoy our handy work for a moment. Just a moment though.

Album of the week: Harbour Boat Trips Vol. 2 by Trentmøller

There’s a palpable coldness to Trentmøller’s latest musical creation. An icy sting clings to the atmosphere of the tracks, like a cold mist clinging to the surface of the ocean. It seems to waft off the glassy exterior and into your ears where its cold touch lingers for its duration. It arrives as the literally titled, Harbour Boat Trips, and it is the long-awaited second instalment of a mixed compilation by the Trentmøller. The first Harbour Boat Trips was released back in 2009, and it was always expected that Trentmøller would follow it up, but none expected to wait nearly a decade. With the help of HFN music, it’s finally here.

Like its predecessor, the theme remains Copenhagen. “Loosely inspired by the motion and movement of Copenhagen’s busy harbour,” Harbour Boat Trips captures the evocative mood of the Danish capital’s shore through a collection of wispy electronica, shoe-gazing tempos, seductive vocals and piercingly cold atmospheres.

Trentmøller might be best known for his cinematic electronic albums like “Last Resort” and “Fixion”, or his entrancing live performances with a full band, but he has also been known to dabble in the booth, and has compiled on rare occasion, stunning mixed pieces for the likes of Late night Tales and Audiomatique Recordings. “Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from my own stuff and present some of the music I like and music that inspires me,” he says in the liner notes of the compilation. Combining pieces from artists like Tropic of Cancer, Pyrit, The Raveonettes, Slowdive and of course his own catalogue, the connection between the diverse roster of artists is tenuous, but the results are consistent and captivating.

There’s a sonic identity to the compilation and mix with a sinuous link to the DJ-artist behind the mix. Trentmøller’s natural penchant for leading female vocals and electronic musical pieces that move like sentient organisms is also accounted for on this mix, with the DJ stringing these various pieces together in the same way an album would unfold. “I like it when a mix tells a story,” he says in the press release for the record. “If the tracks together takes you on some kind of journey, then it’s interesting to me.”

Harbour Boat Trips vol.2 is not so much about the journey, but rather it’s destination. The listener is instantly transported to Trentmøller’s musical idea of Copenhagen and if you’ve ever been to Copenhagen, walking along the harbour boardwalk, it doesn’t take much to cajole the listener back to that place. There’s always been a very definitive mood that has accompanied Trentmøller’s music, and it wasn’t something that could easily be relayed that effectively through a mix of music, but somehow he’s managed to capture that mood in this mix too. Trentmøller makes absolutely no concessions to the underlying sonic theme of the mix, encouraging the listeners to completely immerse themselves in the music as they are whisked away to that elusive destination.

Jacuzzi Boyz with Jawn Rice & Fredfades

It’s jacuzzi weather in Oslo. Relatively mild winter temperatures and uniform snowfall have draped the city in a white blanket that crunch under my feet as I make my way to Tøyen. There’s no actual jacuzzi waiting for me on the other side of this trip, but more like the abstract comfort of jets of warm water rushing up my spine. On my earbuds is Jawn Rice and Fredfades’ Jacuzzi Boyz, an album that hints at the lure of summer in the depths of winter. The funky bass of “Mutual Love” comes on and I hasten my step towards Fredfades’ Tøyen apartment to sit down for an interview with he and Jawn about this latest Mutual Intentions creation.

Fred’s apartment looks familiar. I recognize certain angles from album covers and press shots. It’s crealy a producer-DJ’s hovel with a few walls dedicated to synthesisers, turntables and a fair amount of records. On the record shelf which contains an eclectic array of records, the luminous green backs of Jacuzzi Boys is immediately visible. There’s about twenty of them sitting side by side on the shelf, the last of the first pressing of this record. “500 was definitely not enough records,” says Fred in a matter-of-factly tone. “We sold out before it was released in the first five days.“

On Spotify the single, “Show me how” has already raked up an impressive 164 000 listeners which Fred says is “really good” for Mutual Intentions. Although the Mutual intentions name has been around for a long time in Oslo and Norway, the label is fairly new and Jacuzzi Boyz in many ways marks a new era for the MI label. After featuring on labels like King Underground and Jakarta, Fred and co, are bringing the music back to the collective with a whole load of records primed for release in the near future, including more music from FredFades, Ivan Ave, Jawn Rice and Byron the Aquarius.

Fred plays me some clips from this last record; Byron’s vocals improvising their way through warm Rhodes keys and synthesised strings, while Fred continues to talk about the mutual intentions label: “I used to think we couldn’t do that stuff ourselves, but I’d rather earn less as long as I know that the 50%goes to mutual so we could use on something rather than it going to some dude paying his rent in another country.” A message chimes on Fred’s phone. It’s Jawn, he’s at Tøyen station, and should be with us in 20 minutes. I admire Fred’s synth collection as Jawn enters in from the cold, to join us.

Jawn Rice & Fredfades play Nightflight with Fatima this weekend.

Tell me a bit about the origins of the LP, what made you want to start working together?

Jawn: We’ve always kind of worked together, since I moved to Oslo.

Did you know each other as kids?

Fred: No, I was in Seattle and I got an email from him after he bought the SP1200 (Drum Machine). We decided we should meet up when I get back to Oslo, and we met up at my father’s place and just made some beats. We made some Hip Hop together for nearly six years, and Jawn started doing more electronic stuff and moved out of the city centre. Eventually he taught me Ableton. I decided to share some sketches with Jawn, and he opened the ones he liked and worked on them.

So that was the origins of the album too?

Fred: Yes, kind of.

Jawn: We’ve always been sharing sketches. I’ve been making sketches every day, for years, but I feel that these past years have been more productive in getting some of these sketches out as songs with Fredrik. It’s just a continuation of our friendship.

You guys have been friends longer than you’ve been working together?

Jawn: We’ve always been friends with a hobby.

Fredrik: Jawn is a super talented musician, but I don’t think he has the same need as other people. If we didn’t put out his stuff, nobody would probably hear it, but it’s really good, so we have to take care of it and get it out.

Jawn: The album was mostly Fred’s ideas and I tried to contribute with sounds.

Jawn, why did you stop making Hip Hop and turn to these electronic sounds?

Jawn: I’m still making Hip Hop. I think it changes every now and then. I can like Hip Hop for a year, and then spend two years listening to something else. Sometimes you just get tired of listening to that one style.

Judging from the output at Mutual Intentions and your record collection Fred, you are eclectic people.

Fred: Yeah, I get tired pretty fast, and usually I get tired of contemporary music a lot faster than stuff that’s aged a bit.

Fredrik, I know you’ve collaborated a lot in the past with other artists, especially through the MI network, but Jawn do you often collaborate with other artists?

Jawn: Not so much. I usually just work on my own. I try to make beats with other rappers, but I haven’t really finished anything.

Fred: It can be frustrating working with other vocalists.

So what made this relationship work so well?

Fred: I think it’s because we’ve known each other for a long time; we share a lot of favourite artists and inspirations, and we have a similar approach to music.

Jawn: I knew exactly what kind of music he was into when I first met him.

Fred: What’s funny now is that we don’t listen to the same artists and styles, but we still work well together.

Was there any seminal influence you were considering when you started working on Jacuzzi Boyz?

Jawn: Not really.

Fred: I would send Jawn some references, but there was never anything that we were aiming to sound like. It was all technical stuff. He is really good in the mixing process and he can recreate anything you show him.

 

I thought I could hear a lot of your individual character in the records, like I could hear a bit of Warmth and a bit of Highlights in there, and of course a bit of that Hip Hop too.

Jawn: I think there is a lot of Hip Hop in that record, and some House and a lot of fusion.

Yes, and you can put on in a club situation and people will go off, especially the single.

Fred: Yes, people are playing it. I used to play the single, but now I play the instrumentals more and it’s always weird playing your own music.

Jawn: Yeah I’m totally finished for the album.

I imagine that since you’ve been working on it so long, that it will get a bit tiresome listening to it after well.

Jawn: Yes, I always know the record is ready when I’m just tired of it.

Jawn,  you strike me as the type of person that’s a perfectionist, and will brood over some minute detail.

Jawn: Yes, I tend to do that every day, but only if I’m entertained by the sounds. That’s usually what I’m thinking about before I go to sleep; I’m opening up projects in my head, while lying in bed and editing it in my head.

Fred: I have a very different approach. I make loads of sketches, save stuff and then bounce the first versions. I’ll keep it in iTunes and after a while, I’ll make a playlist that will tie different tracks together in a red-line. And we did the same with our record.

You worked with some collaborators on this LP  like Tom Noble and Lucid Paradise. These are people outside of the Mutual Intentions family. How did you hook up with these people and what were your thoughts on these collaborations?

Fred: I’m not afraid to reach out to people, I do it all the time. Usually I do it, because they have a song that I really like at that point where I’m finishing up a record, and I think it could work well with a song I’m working on.

Lucid Paradise happened because my friend put out a modern soul record from the artist, which is also called “tonight”, actually. We just wanted some really good vocals so it made sense to contact those guys.

Did you find that working together, brought something else to the surface that you won’t necessarily find in your solo work?

Fred: Yes, I don’t think I would have made a record that sounds exactly like that on my own.

Jawn: I’m not sure I would have put any records out at all if it wasn’t for the collaboration with Fred. (laughs)

Fred: I made a lot of sketches which were probably more fusion Disco, than your electronic demos.

Jawn: I’m getting more and more inspired by other people’s original music lately. If Fred tells me about a good song, I will listen to the song and think, we can make this song. I also liked the rare stuff he was playing and I didn’t hear anybody else playing those tunes.

Fred: I have friends that are good musicians, but don’t have that many references, so they will always make stuff that sounds like you would expect it to sound like, but I think if you’re constantly searching for music all the time, you get tired, and you start looking for small things, small mistakes, stuff that hit a nerve. There’s no point in making the perfect song, it already exists and there’s no reason to duplicate it.

Those mistakes or “quirks” are often the thing that gives a record that sense of identity.

Fred: That’s something I learnt when Jawn taught me how to use Ableton. I’m kind of inspired by all the possibilities and all the limitations I had. I really liked all the crazy stuff you could do in Ableton, but after a long time working in the software, I figured out there was something I was missing. I spoke to a friend about it and he said it was those coincidences in that primitive gear, those small glitches that would make unintended art.

Where did the name Jacuzzi Boyz come from?

Fred: Jawn invited me to Lillehammer, where he’s from and we hijacked these snowboarders’ jacuzzi, and the name got stuck. It was a really stupid name, and we just wanted something that really popped, and luckily it worked.

And it relays the feeling of summer perfectly that you capture in the sound.

Jawn: I also think it sounds like summer record somehow, even though it was made in winter.

Fred: I played it to my friend, Hugo (LX) and he was like: “you need to put this out before the beginning of summer!”

Jawn: And we are working on an EP with some remixes from this record that should come out in March.

Will you continue to work together after this?

Jawn: Yes

Are there already thoughts about the next album perhaps?

Fred: Right now, I think we’ll be releasing another record from Jawn, because he has so many unreleased demos.

Jawn: I really want to make something else.

Fred: It’s really different from the other stuff, even more electronic.

Jawn: After every three or four months, I’m usually done with what I’m digging and moving on to the next thing. Like now, I really enjoy mixing aggressive rap music with House music and dance music and I think that’s something I haven’t heard that much, so it’s fresh to me.

Humbled: Shadow Child in Profile

Few recording artists are able to claim success in the way Simon Neale has encountered it. While most artists are content in toiling away in one pre-designated corner of music, Neale has managed to conquer two opposing factions of electronic music, the underground and the mainstream.

As Dave Spoon he has had phenomenal success as a DJ, producer and remixer with a couple of Top 40 UK hits under his belt, remixes for global pop sensations like Madonna and sets at some of the world’s most prestigious booths during the height of the the superstar DJ era. With a distinctive big-room Electro-House sound, based on bold sawtooth bass-lines and groovy step-sequences he was a cut above the rest with tracks like “At Night” becoming crossover sensations, overnight.

Acts like David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Steve Aoki would arrive into popular culture much through the same channels, but Dave Spoon would always hold a little in reserve to appease an underground faction of his fans.

In 2012 he did the unthinkable and retired the Spoon moniker indefinitely and re-incarnated his musical output as Shadow Child, where we would trade in the commercially accessible sound that had brought him success for something closer to the beating heart of House music, buried far beneath the surface at the roots of the music, but updated for contemporary audiences. As Shadow Child he signed to Dirty Bird records, established the label Food Music with Kry Wolf’s Lewis Darvill, and became a weekly host on Rinse FM.

Trading in the big-room Electro-House sound of Spoon for “skippy garage tendencies and brooding, macho basslines” (as Noisey called it at the time), Shadow Child made an immediate impression on dance floors with his track “String Thing.” From there he quickly established the new moniker at the opposite end of House music’s spectrum from Dave Spoon and in the succession of a few years he came to dominate this spectrum of House music too.

“It was never a plan to shout about it being me, I simply wanted people to discover the music first,” explains Neale in an interview with Deep House Amsterdam. Even though these two distinct projects come from the same individual there’s never been a confluence and each has been allowed to live in their own corner on their own terms, completely independently of one another.

After an LP and several EP’s on Labels like Ovum Records, Super Tracks,Unknown to the Unknown and Food Music of course, Shadow Child has done for the second room, what Dave Spoon did for the main room in House music.

Simon Neale’s entry into music, production and DJing is the result of an early interest, education and some fortuitous conditions. He had been picking through his dad’s extensive record collection from a young age, making mixtapes from a dusty collection of Police and Rolling Stones favourites. When his secondary school was given a hefty increase in their state-allocated budget and decided to invest in the arts and a music studio in particular, Neale directed his inquisitive musical nature from listening to creating.

He was “fortunate to be around that type of kit at that age” he reminisces in a Rinse FM interviewand armed with a coveted arsenal of synthesisers and drum machines, he took his first baby steps towards a career in electronic music. He was “really taken with House music” at the time, but that would not be encouraged by production as much as it was by DJing.

He became “obsessed” with DJing at the same time, especially overcome with the sounds of early Rave and Hardcore. A friendly DJ neighbour would let Neale cultivate this obsession into a skill, leaving the latent young DJ to his own devices on a pair of borrowed decks. Production and music would be briefly sidelined for DJing after Neale left school. With no access to the studio at the end of his school career he honed his skills as a DJ instead, while computer technology developed to a point where he wouldn’t need a studio. By the time the virtual studio software Reason hit the shelves in its first incarnation, he had borrowed a computer from a friend and started making music again.

Being “a bit of a nerd,” he found an immediate affinity for music’s computer age, and in a mere few years went from bedroom producer to Dave Spoon, acclaimed producer and DJ. Even as Spoon it was always a UK “vibe” that would inform his music, as he channeled those early sounds into a contemporary voice. “I don’t really hold back my love for Jungle & DnB” he told Deep House Amsterdam, and though it might be quite imperceptible, it has always been there in his music. As he moved from Dave Spoon to Shadow Child, he accentuated that UK sound in his music, where he would join the likes of Julio Bashmore and Eats Everything on the Dirty Bird roster, bringing a distinctly UK vibe to the label out of San Francisco.

The decision to retire Dave Spoon and become Shadow Child was immediate and a definitive. There are “no plans to use him again,” he told Noiseyin 2013. “I had to break down the boundaries from what I was doing before.” As Shadow Child, Neale essentially embarked on a new musical career from scratch.”To be honest, I wasn’t into what happened to Electro House,” he explained about his decision to move on from Spoon. ”Where it’s gone is to America, becoming the EDM thing. Fantastic and very lucrative if you’re into it as a producer and DJ, but I just couldn’t get into it and didn’t want to play that music, so I had to change it up and here we are!”

It was Eats Everything that paved the way in bringing Shadow Child to the world through the former’s connection with Dirty Bird. Neale already had the seminal track “String Thing” done at that time, “but with no home, or name for it,” he reached out to Eats Everything to facilitate the introduction to Claude Von Stroke’s label. “It’s thanks to (Eats Everything) that the link came with Dirty Bird and now the rest is all history, as they say,” he muses in Deep House Amsterdam.

“String Thing” laid the foundation for Shadow Child to start a new label to frame this new sound, and when he heard Lewis Darvill (Kry Wolf) had similar ideas, he approached his friend with; “why don’t we do something together?”. He told Rinse FM that; ”It took us six months to come up with such a simple name, but a lot of thought and pride’s gone into it.“

That UK vibe that he has been cultivating ever since Dave Spoon was there more than ever in Food Music too. There’s a “distinct UK sound from the midlands” Neale mentioned in several interviews and it can be heard in the prominent bass figures and stoic 4-4 kicks that lay much of the foundation for the label. The label features an extensive discography, with artists like Junior Sanchez, A1 Bassline, Danny Howard and of course Kry Wolf and Shadow Child dotting releases.

Shadow Child’s own “Ooh Tune” and his debut, and only LP, a collaborative effort called “Connected”, have made their own impressions on Food Music, but he’s also made significant contributions on other familiar labels – three releases on Unknown to the Unknown, Ovum Recordings and Super Rhythm Trax came out in 2018 alone.

As a DJ he continues to proliferate the scene, playing paces like London’s Printworks and his Rinse FM show every wednesday between 9-11Pm. “I buy vinyl every couple of weeks,” he explains in Electronic Groove about the show.“ It’s essential for me to keep it all moving and not rely on all the music everyone gets sent by the promo companies every day… I have to keep separate from everything else or it’s always going to be the same.” He’s featured guests like “MK, Detlef and Eats Everything, right through to slightly more alternative artists like Lone, Coco Bryce and Super Flu.” He continues to maintain that balance between the obscure and the familiar as Shadow Child, and with his extensive experience in both fields he is able to move freely between these worlds, without upsetting one over the other.

From Dave Spoon to Shadow Child there’s something abstract that pulses through Simon Neale’s music with an innate ability to attract large audiences. It’s in the simplicity of it, but it’s also in the humbling nature of the man behind the music.  “What I do seems to be striking a nerve at the moment,” he told Deep House Amsterdam in 2017. “So I take all of those positive feelings and comments and pump that back into my creations. Some aren’t musically genius, but they’re effective for sure and that’s what it’s about for me. Humbled to be doing what I do.”

Shadow Child joins G-Ha & Olanskii, Olefonken, Helene Richardt and Broder Ibrahim for Frædag this week.

Album of the Week: B12 – Time Tourist

Mike Golding and Steven Rutter didn’t release many albums as B12 during the height of their career in nineties, but the ones they did had cultivated a certain allure and mystique. They counted the likes of Aphex Twin and Autechre as their peers at their label Warp, but some bad business decisions on their part, only amounted to two albums, even though their recorded catalogue at the time would number in the hundreds of unreleased tracks.

Their significantly shy media presence and their reserved output had never seen them rise to the same level of success than their counterparts, but their music lived on, enshrined forever in surreptitious underground lore. Dedicated fans and obscure collectors coveted their minimal output as their music laid dormant, but as that all changed in the last decade, B12 stepped out of obscurity again and embarked on a new phase of their career.

This next phase was spearheaded in most part by the re-issue of their seminal debut, “Electro-Soma” and it’s previously unreleased successor, “Electro-Soma II” on Warp records. While they had released their third LP and their entire anthology o their own B12 records back in 2008, the re-issue had catapulted them into the public conscious again and brought new, much-warranted attention to B12 and their music. For the fans it had validated their obsession, while introducing the group to newer audiences.

While Steven Rutter has steadily been recording music as a solo artist, mostly for his Firecracker recordings imprint, these re-issues have had the rumour mill spinning a yarn that the two are back in the studio together, working on some new, original material together – rumours nobody has been able to validate yet. For the moment, we’ll have to be content with the re-issues.

Around the time of “Electro-Soma”, Warp had offered B12 a record deal with a substantial advance for three records. They didn’t take it, because of some unsubstantiated concerns of a financial burden, and Warp all but cut ties with them. In 1995 however they’re name come up again at the label office and Warp approached them for a sophomore LP, and B12 wouldn’t make the same mistake again and simply jumped at the chance – “Time Tourist” was the result.

Today “Time Tourist” reaches us from some distant past, where it appears to be very much of its time, but not necessarily out of place in our contemporary age. Charming melodic phrases play amongst incandescent harmonic movements coaxed from the familiar sounds of vintage synthesisers and grooveboxes. Even in the 1990’s B12 weren’t necessarily braking any moulds, but they had firmly embraced that second wave of Detroit, and put their distinctive spin on it.

While “Electro Soma” was compiled from B12’s back-catalogue prior to their record deal, “Time Tourist” was an album that was created start-to-finish with the idea of becoming an LP. Science fiction concepts fly untethered to any single thread while the symbiosis between man, machine and music lays the fundamental ground for B12’s sound.

From “Void/Comm” to “Radiophonic Workshop” B12 trace a singular mood through the individual pieces that make up the LP, travelling over crests and through crevices as tension mounts and dissipates over their tracks. Pieces like “Scriptures” and “Gimp” are constructed like songs rather than tracks, with extensive introductions and complex harmonic- and melodic resolutions, and even though they are grounded in that same DIY aesthetic and sonic simplicity of their Detroit counterparts, B12 have always favoured a slightly more evolved and considered musical approach to their arrangements.

“Time Tourist” might be enshrined in its own time capsule, but there’s no reason why this record shouldn’t enjoy the same level of admiration as Kenny Larkin’s “Azimuth” or Aphex Twin’s “Selected Ambient Works”. B12 deserve their rightful place amongst these artists, and thanks to the re-issue of “Time Tourist” and “Electro-Soma” they can finally take their place.

In the Moment with DetErGrovt

ngrid K and Daniel Wien are DetErGrovt, an electronic impro music duo created for the stage. Daniel and Ingrid met each other at an impromptu jam session at one of Robin Crafoord’s SYNC sessions and found an innate bond with each other through a shared appreciation of improvised music. Daniel, an electronic music artist and producer, and Ingrid a vocalists with roots in contemporary Jazz in Oslo were thrown together for one event and built DetErGrovt out of the premise of the event’s extemporised nature.

Each DetErGrovt appearance is unique, an improvised performance built from nothing where Daniel Wien coaxes electronic soundscapes from an array of synthesisers, which Ingrid embellishes on with her instrument, her voice. Living between club concept and jazz concept and completely versatile, both on the dance floor and the stage, DetErGrovt have already made a fundamental mark on the Oslo scene while the project is still really in its infancy.

They come to Jæger this weekend for Olle Abstract’s LYD, which gives us an opportunity to find out more about their origins, their creative relationship and the future of DetErGrovt.

Hello Daniel and Ingrid. I’ve read your bio where it says that you came together at Robin Crafoord’s sync and just clicked after that. What was it that encouraged you to start working together after that session?

We met for the first time at the sound check at Sync, grabbed a burger and had a nice chat about life and music. After playing for a few minutes, we both realised we were on to something special, and after the gig we quickly decided to do it again.

Was there a specific moment for either of you where it just all fell into place during that session?

The whole thing, really. Have you ever experienced meeting a new person and thinking “Yes. That’s my friend”? This was one of those times, and it has resulted in a really cool partnership and friendship that we both value.

How does the name DetErGrovt (It’s rough) allude to your working process and sound?

Actually, it was Ingrids instagram name for a long time until Julie and Maja from Girls Club suggested that we’d use it as the name of the project when they came to see us perform. It’s a cool phrase you can hear people use about things that are really good, bad, surprising etc. It’s rough is a nice translation, but “damn dude that’s siiiiiiiick” is a better one hehe.

For people that might not have heard you before how would you describe your sound what you sound like?

It’s definitely in the techy area. The use of live improvised vocals and effects also pushes it in the trippy direction. Our energy and the energy of the dance floor gives each performance an unique flavor, we never know exactly how it’s gonna be until we’re standing there playing, and that gives the music a nerve that you might not usually find at night clubs.

From what I’ve heard and understand is that it’s all based on improvisation, but then you also just told me you are about to have a rehearsal. Is it about improvising around set pieces,or starting every set out from scratch?

We don’t rehearse, but sometimes we meet up and have a jam session. Daniel often builds a set that he can use freely and Ingrid improvises over that. We often finds bits and pieces we like when we listen to our own recordings and if it’s possible we might try to recreate them the next time we play.

How do you affect each other, creatively?

Its an organic process, but sometimes Daniel make a cool baseline or a groove, and Ingrid gets all creative on that. And sometimes we have philosophical discussions that pushes us both in the creative mood. It’s no recipe really, we just go with the flow.

Is it an immediate working relationship that happens in the moment, on stage or do you cultivate it through discussion and playing together?

The stage is where the magic happens!

How would you define your individual roles in the group beyond musical terms?

Daniel makes most of the foundation with beats and grooves, and Ingrid sparkle her fairy dust on it to make it alive. The energy on stage makes it a complete story.

Some of your performances have made it out onto soundcloud, but not as individual tracks.You guys clearly record a lot, so is there any plan to eventually release the material as an EP or a LP?

Yeah, we have some plans ;-)

I saw you play at Sommerøya last year and it was a very tempered, deep set – suitable for the time of day you performed – but how do you see your set going at Jæger?

Well, since it’s all in the moment it depends on the warmup and how much energy it is on the dancefloor, but tribal-techy-flow-electro is what we have as an intention.

Besides this gig at Jæger, what lies beyond the horizon for DetErGrovt?

We both have individual projects besides this, but we really want to get DetErGrovt out on the road in Europe!

It’s Called Friendship with Catz n Dogz

All Photos by: Yonathan Baraki

“It‘s called friendship,” says Grzegorz (Greg) Demiañczuk about Catz ‘n Dogz’ next LP, “because we are really good friends and we trust each other.” He and Wojciech (Voitek) Tarañczuk have an extensive history of working on music together as Catz ‘n Dogz with three albums and several EPs marking their tenure together, but on their next LP, Greg and Voitek believe they’ve hit a new stride in their music.

The first single from the new album, New Love is “one of the best tracks” they’ve ever made according Greg, and the rest of the world concurs. New Love has received a favourable reception already in its first week out, getting playtime on BBC radio, Hype Machine and some deserving love from the music media.

Raspy strings and a stabbing synth imbibe a premature feeling of summer on “New Love,” with Catz ‘n Dogz’ distinctive upbeat melodic nature underpinning the track. It’s a sound that’s evolved considerably from the deep Tech of their first EP  “Armadillo” but still retains that accessible and engaging nature that Greg and Voitek have always maintained across their records. Even in light of their last EP, “The Feelings Factory“ (Dirtybird) Catz ‘n Dogz make a bold leap in the evolution of their music, one that has paid off considerably and has all the markings of a crossover success for the Polish duo.

Greg and Voitek started DJing and making music together back in the nineties in the city of Szczecin, where their relative access to Berlin paved a way to a career in electronic music, that would lead to more than just the music. Today they count a label (Pets Recordings), a talent agency (Feast Artists) and a festival (Wooded) as some of their accomplishments, with their work as producers and DJs the central focus of their creative endeavours.

Today they travel the world as DJs between recording LPs and EPs, and split their time between their hometown, Madrid and Berlin when they are not on the road. They are still putting the finishing touches on their LP and the next single, when I call up Greg at home in Szczecin. We were supposed to talk the previous day, when he and Voitek would be in the studio together, but Voitek is at home with a sinus infection.

…it’s one of the best tracks we’ve ever did. It really shows our inspiration from the time we were growing up and it’s got a lot of positive energy in it.

“You know, the typical DJ illness,” says Greg through what I imagine is a smile on the other end of the telephone line. They are currently working on a track with a “really famous Polish rapper,” his first foray into English. He has just delivered the vocals, but Voitek’s condition has delayed the process a little. “It was a lot of fun doing this track,” says Greg and the rapper whose identity he conceals likes it too. “It’s almost done, we just need work on the arrangement and the quality.”

But New Love is out, the first single from the LP, and there’s been a bit of hype around this already. There was a social media post about this track somewhere, saying that you felt it was the best track you’ve ever done.  Why do you think so?

Actually it is, it’s one of the best tracks we’ve ever did. It’s got this feeling that (we were always trying to put into our music). It really shows our inspiration from the time we were growing up and it’s got a lot of positive energy in it. We are really happy about the track and also the remixes. It looks like everybody likes it too and we didn’t expect it to be such a big hit. It’s one of the last tracks from the album that we did, and I think it contains all the inspirations we were getting when we were working on the album in Spain.

Can you tell me a bit more about the album?

The last time we made an album, we were still working out of our studio in Berlin and the project took us one and a half years, because it was so big. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and the album came out great, but it was a lot of stress. That’s why we decided to do this album in a shorter period of time.

Voitek moved to Spain almost three years ago and he discovered an amazing place in the mountains. We rented a wooden house and found the acoustics were great.The view from the window, 1300m up in the mountains was amazing. It was perfect. We were surrounded by nature and we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves and that worked out really well.

The album is called friendship, and you and Voitek share long history together in that regard. How did you two meet and what compelled you to work together originally?

We are both from Szczecin, which has a population of about half a million people. It’s very close to the Baltic sea, but also very close to Berlin. That’s why the access to music for us was pretty easy compared to other parts of Poland. It was hard to get the music we liked in the 1980’s when we were young, but we were able to listen to the radio from Berlin and Germany.

Because we were so close to Berlin a lot of DJs would come here for the odd gig so the scene was really good and the clubs were really good and that’s how we met; because the scene wasn’t very big. I saw that Voitek was doing some music and I started doing some music, so we exchanged music. And then a new club opened and we were the residents, and started doing the radio show at the same time.

What was the club called?

Mezzoforte. It was actually pizza place with a basement where we were inviting people like John Tejada, High Fish and some other DJs to come play.

What  sort of music were you being exposed to at that time, the stuff from West Berlin?

Actually, we had a friend who had all the limited editions and unreleased records from the US, because he was exchanging some emails and letters with the shops from Detroit and Chicago.

You know how it is, you get pretty creative when there is not so much stuff around. Now you have to spend a lot of time looking through a lot of records, but at that time you really had to make an effort.

Yes, but the main inspiration came from Berlin, because we were going there once a month with a huge list of records, fighting in the shop, trying to decide who would get the best records.

I remember when we started to play together at the residency, we were flipping a coin to see who would play a record, because sometimes we would only have one copy, because we could only afford one copy.

Do you think that effortless connection from playing back to back made it quite easy to start making music together?

No it was not. We were playing back to back, but also Voitek was playing harder and I was playing deeper. Through the years from playing back to back we started mixing our styles. Our heroes were DJs like Laurent Garnier, who was also collecting different styles of music. When we played longer, we were able to connect our styles.

We always wanted to do some music, because I was always into the hardware and software and discovering new sounds, and Voitek was always very manual.

Somehow our connection was really good. Through the years we discovered how to work together and right now it’s amazing.

Even when we buy records, we don’t buy the same records; a similar style but a little different. When we meet in the club we’ll play some stuff the other one doesn’t know.

Each of you brings a little of your own individuality to Catz ‘n Dogz to make it what it is.

Yes, I think that’s the best, because it’s like a challenge. It’s a bit like competition and we need the energy. To be honest, right now, it’s even more inspiring and more fun. As I said earlier we don’t put any pressure on ourselves today and we can just focus on self development and the music.

I am shocked with the quality of the records we are getting. It’s really hard to say no to some stuff…

That brings me back to the album and what you said earlier about how this album came together. Did you find there was a development or evolution from the last record Basic Colour Theory?

Yes. Basically as an artist you always want to do something new. Before we were doing music with a basic idea without thinking about the sound or the arrangement, but right now when we work together it feels like we have more experience through all the years of working together.

I also want to ask you about the larger Catz ‘n Dogz empire, which includes Pets Recordings (the label), Feast Artists (the agency) and the Wooded festival. Why have so many fingers in all these pies at the same time?

Because we don’t like to have any free time. (Laughs) Sometimes it’s too much though. For example this year we’ve decided not to do the Wooded festival because we have the album tour.

It was always our dream to do the label. That was always a lot of fun for us; discovering new people, because we still like to dig. The label is doing really well and we have a lot of new releases for this year.

Marysia is our manager and she also runs Feast artists with Marta who’s also helping us with the label. We’ve known them a long time, and they are good friends and we have a really good vibe working together. It’s all about friendship.

The label is quite versatile with people like Richie Hawtin, Ejeca and Matthew Jonson all on that one label. What do you look for in artists you want to sign for Pets recordings.

Right now we are quite full. To be honest I am shocked with the quality of the records we are getting. It’s really hard to say no to some stuff, but we have to because we don’t want to release that much.

When is the Catz ‘n Dogz album coming out?

It’s actually coming out on the Brexit date. (Laughs) We only discovered it yesterday.

You’ve played at Jæger a lot –  I think you’ve played every year for the last three years.

Yes, it’s so much fun. It’s a really great club with a great sound system, and we love to come to places like Jæger and play once a year because then we go and we really know what to expect and you can really focus on the music. When you go to a new club you never know what the people are going to be like and how the sound is going to be, so the first hour is a test.

And what are your expectations at Jæger?

We can experiment more and we can play more underground, because the sound is really good. We can play some stuff with bass and test our own new productions because of the sound. We’ll play some edits and some unreleased stuff.

So we might get a sneak peak at some of the upcoming album?

Definitely and some singles.

The Cut with Filter Musikk

Music sales figures for 2018 are in! According to the RIAA, sales of physical records (in the US) went up 14% last year while cassettes increased by a whopping 19%. It also says that sales of streaming services went up by 44%, but if the rest of that industry’s counting is anything like the Carters at Tidal, who seemed to be enlisting the help of their infant daughter Blue Ivy in the process – 5, 7, 20, 100, 200 000, 3 000 000 – the veracity of those claims are questionable at best.

The tangible evidence we can take from this however is that vinyl sales have seen yet another increase, which means it must be time for another Cut with Filter Musikk and it’s two-for-one deal this week on our first edition of the series out of Roland Lifjell’s hallowed hollow in downtown Oslo.

Thanks to a myopic moment on our part, the start of 2019 still remains something of a blur and although the records have already started arriving at Filter this year, we somehow passed over an entire box two weeks ago. So we are making up for that today with an extended cut with Filter Musikk.

Roland Lifjell has been tucked away in his little corner as usual and in a tug of war between the boxes of records and space for movement he’s starting to lose the battle. It’s only after navigating a maze of plastic and cardboard that we find Roland huddled over a stack of the latest arrivals, admiring his own reflection from their shiny untouched plastic sheaths.

After unpacking two boxes over the course of last two weeks, Roland has sent us the best of these for the Cut with Filter musikk. These records, selected from an already meticulously curated collection of latest arrivals, are the musical pieces that you can touch, see, hear and acquire.

There’s no hype here, with months of inane clickbait directed through social media threads and constant previews of halfarsed loops that are printed up in limited numbers only to disappear on the shelves of the distributor before they are even released. No, these are the records that are here and now, the music that matters, this is the cut with Filter Musikk.

Ansome, Umwelt – Rave Or Die 11 (Rave Or Die) 10″

O, it’s like that is it Roland? We’re just going to launch ourselves into the deep end with some no, holds barred, growling Techno? Umwelt’s Rave or Die imprint makes no concessions when it comes to club music. There is no posturing or attempt to cajole the listener with some innocuous looping twaddle. The music on Rave or Die and in extension anything with the Umwelt moniker stamped across the record is music that shouts at its listeners, foaming at the mouth like a rabid animal with vitriol intent.

Ansome and Umwelt accompany each other on this florescent 10”, providing two mammoth Techno cuts that are too big to be contained on its dinky format. Two blistering percussive arrangements twist and writhe in their constraints as they wrestle free from conformity. Ansome and Umwelt find some synchronicity between their tracks with jack-hammer beats puncturing unnerving atmospheres with all the grace of a two-ton truck.

In light of Umwelt’s ferocious kick-per-beat “Affre”s, Ansome’s “Vakuum” is almost tame – I said almost. Both producers are in a class of their own however, applying noise and distortion with the most delicate of touches that produce awe-ínspiring results.

Rave or Die 11 is not breaking any moulds and it ventures very little in terms of the sound Umwelt has cultivated since its inception, but what it does, it does incredibly well and few very prominent labels and artists brandishing the Techno badge could come close to the intensity that real Techno artists like these put forward.

Posthuman – The Snake Bites Twice (Craigie Knowes) 12″

The UK acid outfit Posthuman set their sites on Electro for the precocious Glasgow label, Craigie Knows on The Snake Bites twice. The barely-new label, which has already garnered a reputation for its bold dancefloor cuts across 18 releases over two years, turns to the east-London stalwarts, Richard Bevan and Joshu Doherty for their latest release.

With a glance in their rear-view mirror, Posthuman continue to honour the roots of club music in their sound, with infectious melodies, kinetic beats, acid bass-lines and progressive arrangements balancing their sound. On The Snake Bites Twice they don’t mess with perfection, and their modernised take on Acid, Electro and Detroit Techno fwavers little from previous releases. They bulk up the tried and tested sounds of Roland’s x0x range, but dust off the cobwebs and bring it up to date, where it completely does away with those DIY associations of yore.

Stripping back the elements to their essential parts like on “Polywater Acid” they favour a minimalist modernist take, leaving tracks like that enough room to breathe through modern scooping sound systems like the Funktion One. Where “Steal the Show” does indeed steal the show with its Electro breakbeat and engaging melodic phrases, there’s a little bit of everything and something for everybody across this release.

From “Cobra Structure’s” lysergic movements beyond the known galaxy to “Down to Jakk’s” monstrous jacking rhythm section the record goes from accessible dance floor workouts on the A-side to stripped back DJ tools on the b-sides with the TB-303 almost always front and centre in the arrangements as Posthuman’s defining character.

Birds Ov Paradise – Part 1: Bayou (Hypnus) 12″

The alluring, hypnotic sounds of Hypnus have been providing a deep alternative to the boisterous sounds of Techno since 2014, with an ambient treatment of experimental electronic sounds that drift along at tempered tempos as they swirl around, slow chugging beat arrangements. BLNDR, Luigi Tozzi and Feral have all contributed to the Swedish label, solidifying the sound of the label in those artist’s exploratory views of electronic music.

Birds ov Paradise (David Sabel) joined the roster with a three part release which saw the light of day last year and now finally arrives in Oslo. The Göteberg artist finds a natural synergy with the label directly on the first part, Bayou. Rich textures cascade over the tempered rhythm section, where they float light as air across the audio spectrum. Bass lines whispering from the depths of the arrangements ride waves of steady four-four kicks as electronic organisms swarm around their brief appearance only to dissipate back into the ether in glowing reflections of their existence.

Across four tracks Birds ov Paradise creates a mystical sonic narrative that runs through the short LP. You can almost that touch the foggy humidity of the Bayou on this release, setting the scene for the rest of the series that will venture further onto the Savannah and the Plateau. We look forward to the journey.

Mall Grab – How The Dogs Chill, Vol. 1 (Looking For Trouble) 12″

“It’s straight up party music,” reads on eager Discogs commentator on this, the latest record from hip-house / lo-fi (whatever you want to label it) producer and DJ Mall Grab. Wait, since he’s been doing this kind of music since the beginning, does this make him a Hip-House veteran? As confusing as that sounds, Mall Grab is one of the originators of the resurgence of House in this current epoch of dance music. Originally defined by distorting hats and cymbals and a quirky moniker, I think it’s safe if we just call it House music today.

How the Dogs Chill Vol.1 (I expect there will never be a volume 2) is the debut of a label that takes its name from the EPs third track, “Looking for trouble”, suggesting this might be a MG imprint. It’s got that nineties throwback, self-deprecating aesthetic that we’ve encountered across releases from similar acts like Ross from Friends and DJ Seinfeld that re-affirms this.

With an all-encompassing musical palette, Mall Grab channels everything from Jungle to Hip Hop through his work and How the Dogs Chill wavers little from his sonic dexterity. From the deep House,Trance inflection of “Liverpool street in the rain”, to the broken beat of “Get impetuous”, there’s no singular genre or style to pigeonhole his music.

There is an infectious attraction to his musical creations however and we would have to agree with that eager Discogs user; How the Dogs Chill Vol.1 is  straight up party music.

Versalife – Nova Prospekt (TRUST) 12″

At the forefront of this current wave of Electro is Versalife. The Dutch producer has been making expressive electronica within the canon of Electro for the best part of a decade, but where others have favoured the DIY palette of the genres roots he’s opted for a more progressive approach to the genre. Skipping beats coaxed from a modern interpretation of the tried and trusted sounds of the Roland x0x series, travel through the alien electronic textures, skipping through the cosmos at hyperspeed as it boldly takes us into the future of the Electro genre.

Versalife returns to TRUST for Nova Prospekt, a label that has embodied this new age in Electro and electronic music, immortalising the sound for the next generation as they step into the future. Nova Prospekt is a more familiar approach from Versalife after the concept-driven Soul of the Automaton series, which saw the producer relay a cognitive narrative through three records.

Nova Prospekt is by no means any different in sonic identity, but a simpler arrangement and less-varying progression through the tracks has a more defined dance floor characater in its execution. Versalife’s futurist approach, while honouring the legacy of the likes of Drexciya, uses familiar tropes, re-imagined like an auteur looking towards some science fiction future.

“Exosuit” and its charming bleeping motive; “2A Spacts” and it’s slinky bass line; and the title track’s bouncing toms-as-bass-lines all sound immediately familiar, but as Versalife interprets these in his own unique way and frames these elements in his distinctive alien soundscapes, it retrofits these elements for the next phase of this music.

Ekman, Ola Bergman – Code Two (Propaganda Moscow) 12

From one end of Electro to the other with Propaganda Moscow, where dark atmospheres and body-slamming beats replace the lush adventurous melodies and arrangements of Versalife. Ekman and Ola Bergman, bring it back to a primal level where music is a physical relationship between man and machine and the results are raw expressive moments trapped in a moment.

There are two sides to Ekman; the traditional Electro artist stripped down to its fundamental parts in pursuit of function above form like we heard on his debut LP Primus Motors, and then there’s this Ekman; the bold experimentalist ready to assault the senses with some abrasive sonic deluge aimed at the status quo. He usually reserves this latter part for releases on Trilogy Tapes, but on this occasion, that part of the artist has kicked a hole in the partition that divides these respective sides of his artistic personality. Murky synths cloud the percussive sections where they disappear behind the erratic synth formations screaming at you from sordid depth.

Luckily Ola Bergman is there on the flip as the sage counterpoint to Ekman’s schizophrenic sounds. Bergman however retains that mystique and allure clouding the entire release with drums and stabbing synths appearing out of leaden atmospheres. A more traditional take on the darker side of Electro, Bergman plays on that familiar dichotomy in electro, between melody and function and staccato and legato, but he strips it back to its most corporeal dimensions with two tracks aimed specifically at the DJ and the dance floor.

Album of the week: Prins Thomas – The movement of the free spirit

In 1993 Joakim Haugland established a label with a very specific DIY philosophy based on a  very specific community of Norwegian artists in his hometown, Flekkfjørd. The name Smalltown Supersound, had little bearing on the actual premise of the records and tapes coming out of the small collective – “There was obviously no supersound in our small town” – but some 25 years into the future, Smalltown Supersound has certainly cultivated a Supersound out of its ranks; a sound that has gone on to define Norwegian music beyond its borders.

With an intimate, but expanding artist roster, which today still counts no more than 15 artists, Smalltown Supersound lives by its eponymous ethos. It’s all about a supersound out of small town. That small town was eventually engorged by Oslo and the artists like Kelly Lee Owens and Neneh Cherry have given the label a multinational presence, but the approach has changed little.

Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas, Bjørn Torske, Jaga Jazzist, Mongolian Jetset; Biosphere and Mental Overdrive have made IMPRESSIVE contributions to the label in its 25 years. Consider Lindstrøm where I go you go too; Bjørn Torske’s Trøbbel, Todd Terje’s The Arps or Annie’s Don’t Stop and it frames a label that has not only perpetuated the “Norwegian Sound” but has placed it on the forefront of popular music in many respects.

Dotting the discography throughout the label’s extensive existence, the mix CD and compilation have played an integral role in compartmentalising this sound, through the vast cosmic reach of the label’s “sound.” From Noise, Jazz, Electronica or Pop, Smalltown Supersound has very few defining characteristics to the music that makes it out on the label, but somehow there’s that red thread coursing through it all, which the mix CDs and compilations always framed in the context of each other in many of those “ahhhh’ moments on the label.

The trippy dub eccentricities of Mungolian Jet Set; the brooding electronica of André Bratten; the noisy exhortations of Deathprod; and more recently the sweet tranquility of Neneh Cherry, all live side by side and together across the Smalltown Supersound. So what better way to celebrate twenty five years of the label with just such a compilation, an all-encompassing document of the last twenty five years as exemplification of that red thread.

There is only one DJ on the roster that could ever frame this correctly, and label head Joakim Haugland knew it. “For me it was obvious that (Prins) Thomas should make the Smalltown Supersound mix” says Hauguland in the liner notes for the record. Prins Thomas in return provided a super mix that in no uncertain terms simply captures “The movement of the free spirit” and in it, that elusive red thread of Smalltown Supersound. “Most of the time I am probably the only one that sees it,” ponders Haugland, but “now Thomas has found the spiritual unity.”

Thomas captured that spiritual unity across an incredible 80 tracks that goes from the extemporised noise of the label’s furthest leftfield reaches to those familiar favourites – although those are often featured in some or other remix form of the original. Needless to say there are a few exclusive remixes too, but the individual tracks pale in comparison in the grander context of the mix as they come together through the expert hands of Prins Thomas.

This vast and expansive mix sums up the dexterity of the label in quantity, but it’s Prins Thomas that brings the mood and that spirit across through his selection and his assemblage of that selection. There are no obvious highlights and to review the individual tracks will be a futile endeavour, because the execution of the mix brings them together as one singular artistic statement.

If ever there was a case for DJing as an artistic expression this would be it and the only regret is that we picked up the vinyl version, which only has the first part of this mix available through a clumsy double LP format, which interrupts the flow of the mix – A few exclusives on a double LP with the mix in is entirety as download, would have been a much more rewarding format for the listener.

The movement of the free spirit is a great testament to the ethos of Smalltown Supersound and Prins Thomas’ interpretation of that spirit and sound will undoubtedly make its own incredible impression on the discography. “The Movement of the free sprit” will undoubtedly make its own impression on the Smalltown Supersound catalogue, a classic in its own right.

A moment with Black Motion

Thabo Mabogwane & Bongani Mohosana have been making music together as Black Motion for the best part of the last decade. Coming through the ranks of South Africa’s vibrant House music scene, the pair count Culoe de Song and Black Coffee as their counterparts, but together they’ve established a sound in the South African House dialect all their own.

Black Motion’s sound is built on the foundations of the drum, with rhythms structured around native musical languages informed by rich cultural heritage of South Africa, but executed in the familiar style of House music. “We’ve never wanted to make house music,” they told Billboard magazine in a 2017 interview, “we’ve only ever wanted to make South African house music.” With rhythmical arrangements closer to Kwaito than House music, and diasporic influences from the wider canon of contemporary music informing their work, they’ve made a severe mark in South Africa’s music scene, signing as a joint venture artist to Sony and playing to stadium audiences back home.

Black Motion are a prolific musical duo, making their debut with the LP, “Talking to the Drums” and releasing an album every three years up until the present to their latest LP, “Moya Wa Taolo”. Lacing an intricate and deep narrative through their work, each album progresses from the last, both conceptually and musically and they trace a fluid line through South Africa’s cultural diversity. They’ve kept South African audiences entertained with their LPs and hybrid live shows for the best part of decade, and now that they’ve “hit” what they considered “the roof” of popularity at home, the next phase of their career is to export it to the wider world.

After establishing Black Motion as one of the highlights of the South African House scene, they’ve striked out on the international scene in recent years and again all on their own terms through their unique take on the live-DJ experience, perpetuating the Black Motion sound and energy.. We bared witness to their awe-inspiring craft on stage during their recent foray into the northern hemisphere, which found them playing at Jæger and in a brief moment we also found an opportunity to sequester Thabo and Bongani backstage between soundcheck and their show for a Q&A session.

“You are born into House music. There’s nobody that comes from the hood that doesn’t understand House music. Your daily life is House music and that’s why we incorporated it into our lives. “

How did you guys meet?

Thabo Mabogwane: We met in Soshanguve, in the hood where we are both from, through a guy called Moses. We were producing individually, and through Moses we linked up and formed Black Motion. This was 2010.

Moses, was he also involved in the House scene at the time?

Bongani Mohosana: No he’s just a guy who likes music and collecting music. He had some of my stuff and some of Thabo’s stuff and he decided he had to put us together. And I’ll say he’s the founder of Black Motion, because he invested in a lot of up and coming artists. He bought us our first equipment.

Soshanguve was there at the centre of the House explosion in South Africa in the nineties reaching up all the way to Polokwane. 

Thabo: O yeah, proper.

Were you aware of what was happening around you at the time in terms of House music?

Thabo: Yes, as soon as you are born into Soshanguve, it became culture, House music became tradition. You are born into House music. There’s nobody that comes from the hood that doesn’t understand House music. Your daily life is House music and that’s why we incorporated it into our lives.

Bongani: House music is also a little bit of our clan. We’re from the same clan, even though we might have different surnames. It’s a part of our roots, because we would play drums when we wanted to celebrate something.

Thabo: Or call the rain and when we want to heal somebody traditionally, we always want to communicate it with the drums. So, what better way than taking our culture and fusing it into House music. We started out with drumming and producing our own tracks and doing what we do in the studio on the stage. That’s the whole movement, that’s how it started.

I’ve read in past interviews that the drum is an important element to your music. So it is something that has been informed by the traditions of your clan?

Thabo: Yes, it’s always tradition, especially in our clan. We are descended from the clan of the rain queen, Queen Modjadji. The source of all communication, the most important part of our culture are the drums. Everything we do, we do with drums. Whether it’s the healing or an initiation… anything that’s cause for celebration. The drums are the key to everything and that’s why we incorporated it in our music. When we’re on stage and we’re playing the drums we think it touches people…

Bongani: Spiritually.

When you were listening to House music growing up, how much of it was from the States and Europe and how much was homegrown?

Bongani:  We were listening to everything. Music is music. When you check our phones today, it goes deep. Deep African music but also European music. We play those traditional sounds from other countries so we can learn where the music comes from.

Thabo: In the nineties we had a lot of music that taught us a lot about House music. I think it was around the eighties when vinyl started coming in from people like Frankie Knuckles and  a whole lot of artists from the US, especially Chicago – they opened up the scene in South Africa. Every day there were a whole lot of tracks that we would hear from vinyl. So I would say Chicago House influenced House in South Africa. Because we were not that privileged back in the day of owning a computer, we just relied on the music from overseas.

Bongani: And compilations.

Thabo: That’s how it circulated.

I’ve read that your philosophy is about exporting the Black Motion, and in extension the South African sound to the wider world.

Thabo: Yes, accommodate everyone.

How does the reception compare when you play in Europe and the States to back home in South Africa?

Bongani: It’s different, but for us it’s a fresh start to get to see people who connect through us through music even though they might not know us. They give you that 100% attention and for us it’s overwhelming. We feel that in South Africa we’ve hit the roof, so for us being here and travelling all over the world, we’re learning.

What is your connection with other House artists in the region like Black Coffee and Culoe de Song, do you feel you are part of a bigger scene there today?

Thabo: Yes, there’s always an involvement with whatever we try and do, especially with Afro House, the kind of House that we do and push. There are always a whole lot of collaborations with other artists and we have done a few tracks with Black Coffee in the past too. In December we did a surprise concert with him. So that’s where the link comes in.

Bongani: There’s usually a three year gap between our releases, because we dedicate a full year to other musicians. We collaborate with other artists and perhaps work on other projects with them and after that we’ll focus on our own album.

“We have to sit down first and tell each other stories and that’s where the song will come about, it’s a spiritual connection.”

Have you seen House music in South Africa evolve a lot with so much focus from the outside world looking in today through social media and the internet?

Thabo: Yes, it’s grown a lot, but in different genres too, I think. Sometimes the popping of the Internet can lead to a whole lot of pressures too. The internet is a buzz, it’s a moment, so there’s a whole lot of artists in South Africa that are only Internet based.

Bongani: They appear to be proper…

But then it’s just hype.

Thabo: Yes, but there are some real artists that are really making it big without the Internet

I believe there is some narrative that follows your music across albums (at least through Talking to the Drums to Ya Badimo) and that the “musical journey also mirrored that progress.” Can you tell us a little more about these themes?

Thabo: With the first album, “Talking to the Drums” it’s the first initiation of becoming a traditional healer. The first step is communicating through the drums which is opening the channel. The second album was entitled “Aquarian Drums”. This is the second step of becoming a traditional healer. You go underwater for six months, hence the title. The third one was “Fortune Teller”. This is where you are able to tell others what you’ve heard under the water. “Ya Badimo” was the step where we give thanks, like a thanksgiving ritual. “Ya Badimo” is the ancestors and we gather round to say thank you and give thanks to the journey. And now we’re at Moya Ya Taola, which is the spirit of the bones.

Yes, I was going to ask you where Moya Ya Taola fit into this narrative, because I’ve only heard the story up until Ya Badimo.

Thabo: That’s imbedi. This is the point where we’re going to tell you about the music. It’s a reference (to traditional healers) as they would throw the bones and tell you where to go. So, our bones is our music and we just throw it on the floor.

Bongani: It’s like we are giving the people what we learnt.

Is that why that album features the most collaborations, because you’re giving something back?

Thabo: Yes exactly, and if you check you see it is made up of people that are not popular in South Africa or that well known. We want to give people a chance. We only want to take people that don’t know the industry and give them a platform.

Bongani: And some of the (collaborations) are people that we were in the studio with three years ago. We take our time, we don’t just jump in and record. With our collaborations we don’t believe in image. We have to sit down first and tell each other stories and that’s where the song will come about, it’s a spiritual connection.

How do you come across these artists?

Thabo: In most cases they are people that approach us, and we can usually sense if they are serious. Other times it’s people that come via recommendations from people we know.

What do you look for in an artist for these collaborations?

Together: Originality.

Bongani: The artist needs to be themselves.

Thabo: And not try and impress.

Bongani: We’re not VIP guys, we’re very accessible. We like to be around people. We learned to listen to other people’s stories and that’s where we get our answers.

*Frædag returns this week with B.Traits

Album of the Week: Fredfades & Jawn Rice – Jacuzzi Boyz

The Mutual Intentions crew are back, and they’ve brought a little summer to Oslo this winter. Whether they are evoking the sounds of golden era Hip Hop; making Deep House for dusty fingers; or simply playing rare disco and boogie 7 inches from the booth, it’s hard to pin down the Mutual Intentions sound to anything other than a feeling or a mood. On the latest offering, Frefades and Jawn Rice have conjured a specific feeling again, and it hits you like a cooling “summer breeze” on a muggy July evening.

Fredfades and Jawn Rice have combined forces on Jacuzzi Boyz, the latest record from the Mutual Intentions camp and released via their own label. After the lush humidity of Fredfades’ “Warmth” and Jawn Rice’s tempered House on “Highlights”, the pair find a captivating middle ground on Jacuzzi Boyz. Combining Fredfades’ 90’s era sampling techniques with Jawn Rice’s rich House arrangements, Jacuzzi Boyz is a record that emphasises each producer’s strengths in a mutualistic symbioses.

“It isn’t Easy” hit the ground running for the latent LP, as one of the most exciting tracks to come out of Norway last year. Combining deep sonorous chords with funk-induced bass lines and jacking beats, Fred and Jawn have cultivated a sound that speaks to a more versatile era of House music. When they especially turn up the funk on tracks like “Bright Tomorrow” and “Mutual Love” through snappy synthesisers the entire record starts to burble with energy as it makes a beeline for the dance floor.

As ever, and something that’s very persistent in all Mutual Intentions endeavours, is that sense of nostalgia where you’re lost in some intangible memory that floats between surreal reverie and reality. Fredfades and Jawn Rice transport you to an exotic world on the fringes of the familiar where Rhodes keys eddy between languid progressions across nine tracks. Guest appearances from established artists like Tom Noble and Lucid Paradise offer some dynamic variation across the record, while maintaining that signature sound, the duo has cultivated on this record.

It might be the first time Jawn Rice and Fredfades have worked together on a record this closely, but the collaboration shows an instinctive creative partnership that is more than just the sum of their individual parts. They’ve clearly been simmering in this sound together for some time, refining their strengths together on a record that will live beyond its own declinations and certainly win over a few more fans to the Mutual Intention scamp. Jacuzzi Boyz strikes a particular chord with the listener, one that lingers on a mood long after the record runs itself out.

Free Falling with Karolinski

There’s a tense quiet, the faint sounds of a synthesiser feeding back on itself, and suddenly; a magnificent wave of sound rolls out of Jæger’s 21 inch Funktion One bass cabinets. An all-consuming focus resolves into big undulating boulders of sound lapping up against bodies pressing closer to the stage. Karolinski (Karoline Hegreness) is making her live debut in Oslo and there are no expectations, but the energy is electric as the soundsystem trembles through the opening bars of her set. In the front there is a dedicated group in Jæger’s basement, they’ve come exclusively to see the budding artist and she has pulled them close to the front, forming a tight but free circle around the stage.

Karolinski has only just released her debut record, an LP called “Abnormal Soundscape”, but already she’s cultivated a keen following in Norway. Although she has been a DJ in the Bergen scene for many years, “Abnormal Soundscape” has been her first foray into production, and it’s clear that there is an inherent understanding of the club environment when she takes to the stage. A track from the album, “Oh Lordy” spills out from the speakers and the warm surging bass washes over the audience while crystalline noise, resonating back onto itself cascades from the upper frequencies.

“You have more things to do on stage… and it’s super intuitive.”

If pressed, “Oh Lordy” is her favourite track from the album she tells me before her set. “I made that in Australia in a beach House last summer”. It’s the “latest track” from the album and Karoline’s gesturing shapes from behind her podium of machines is her enjoyment manifested through movement. “Do you find the live show more exciting that the DJ set” I ask her. ”Of course,” she says eagerly; “You have more things to do on stage… and it’s super intuitive.”

She’s excited for the night ahead and says she will be incorporating some vocals in the preceding set. For this particularly live show at Jæger she has “started bringing in House music and vocals”  to give her audience something a little “different” from the album. The album which has enjoyed a very promising critical reception in Norway only came out in December, but already she’s cultivated a significant following.

Since releasing “Abnormal Soundscape” on her own label  FJORDFJELLOGDALER (FFDR) the requests to perform have started trickling in. Olle Abstract specifically asked for Karolinski when he played in Bergen recently and while she was still preparing for her live set at Jæger she jumped in head first to make her debut as a live artist. “I was already stressing about the one at Jæger which was a month and a half away,” she explains but “it went pretty well.”

She took a lot away from that first gig, and observing her on stage at Jæger it seems like she is well versed at the job at hand. Even when the power abruptly shuts down during her set at Jæger, she handles it like a pro and jumps right back into her set with grace and determination like nothing has happened. Her live set exceeds 130 beats per minute, a severe departure from the “pretty chill set” she played in Bergen only a few weeks back, she tells me. The dub influences on her work, with those deep rolling waves of bass and extended delays, undercuts the tempos of the 4-4 kicks punching their way through the miasmatic textures. Tracks from the album contort into new improvised pieces, pieces that might be the first sketches of  a new track. A vocal dissipates into endless echoes and elements of House and Techno find a common ground in the live setting, including an homage to Crystal Waters at the end of her set.

Karoline is also a skydiver and skydiving instructor, and there’s always been a tactile connection between “flying” and music for the artist. Titles like “I wanna dance in the sky” and the video for her first single “ Basic Frequency” parlay this into a literal correlation, but it all harks back to her childhood. Her parents, skydivers and computer programmers created an environment where electronic music and skydiving became symbiotic experiences. She had Napster when it was still an unknown entity, and she would “download a lot trance” but with specific themes. Titles like “castles in the sky” and “dreaming of flying all the time” she remembers specifically today. Tracks like these and specifically Trance, sparked an early interest in electronic music, but it wasn’t exactly an isolated experience for Karoline. “When I heard the complexity of the synthesiser,” she explains “I connected it with my mum and dad was doing when they were flying.” Both music and skydiving became two very important aspects in her life.

“Naturally I got into electronic music after listening to a lot of  Trance,” she says but through the years the associations with flying have moved from Trance to Dub Techno. “ It’s about the long dub chords, the reverbs, the delay and the space that you can create,” and that’s the parallel she draws between music and skydiving today. “When I fly,” she says, “I just hear a drone” and it doesn’t take much on the listeners part to find these striking parallels too. Through “Abnormal Soundscape” there’s an emphasis on space as simple repetitive phrases repeat on themselves, orbiting around a simple refrain from synthesiser.

Inspired by “early 2000 Echospace, Deepchord and Maurizio,” Karoline started making electronic music in 2013. She set out in search of the fundamentals via YouTube, but found the process “really confusing.” She realised that; “if I really want to learn this I have to go to school.” She enrolled in an Ableton course at Point Blank in London, which applied her with the basic tools to start making music, and a platform for her to hone her eventual sound. “Skydiving was still a really big thing” in her life at that point and she managed to travel the world with it, but she made sure that everywhere she went she could bring her portable studio with her.

“I could finally get my shit together and just focus on being here with the music.”

When she moved back to Norway, she came back with a singular vision: to finish the recorded material, release a record and start a label. She found a makeshift studio on the outskirts of Bergen, and sequestered in her new home, began to compartmentalize what she’d made through her travels. She set herself the task of going through “hundreds of finished projects” in an effort to create a “soundscape” from a “few selected tunes” that would eventually become the album. “When I got home to the studio,” she explains “I could finally get my shit together and just focus on being here with the music.” That was the start of everything for Karoline with everything circling back to the first track on the album, “flight simulator”

“Flight simulator is the first track I ever made,” says Karoline. It was inspired by Tiësto’s “Flight 643” and Karoline’s “favourite game” from where the track takes its name. “I’ve always wanted to use a speech from a flight,” she says about the song’s origins and found a “fucked-up version of the speech” from the game to form the basis of the track, the vocal gliding up and down the looping arrangement. The speech and the subject matter adds a very eerie quality to the track that Karoline found “super strange and surreal,” but at the same time adds something literal to the abstract soundscape she creates through synthesisers.

There’s often this literal quality li to Karolinski’s music, which Karoline doesn’t try to subvert through her tracks titles. “Toget fra Oslo heim til Bergen” for instance was a track created on the train home from Oslo to Bergen exactly as the title suggests but there’s also something tactile about that trip in the music. She looked out of the window during her journey and interpreting the lights flashing past the window as sounds, she found the defining crux of that song.

“Abnormal Soundscape” is the result of some 10 years worth of music distilled into the album in this way with personal experiences defining the sound of the album. Why did it take her so long to release music? “I wasn’t ready,” she says and elaborates; “before, I was still travelling around and make music wherever I was. Now I want to have it as a career.” And what about skydiving? “I really love it and it’s a big passion in my life. But so is music and music is a bigger part of my life at the moment.”

Karoline paved her own way to success, establishing her own label, and even though she had the entire Bergen scene at her disposal, she feels that her experience with music was a “super  isolated” one. She had known the “music dudes” in Bergen all her life through Djing and specifically mentions Christian Tilt as an abettance, but when it comes to her music and the label she “really wanted to understand” the intricacies of running her own label and being an independent artist. FJORDFJELLOGDALER had to be her “own platform” and Karoline “was never interested” in working with other labels.

In the future she hopes the label will become a similar platform for other artists and if offered, she might start working with other labels too. Meanwhile she’s got a “couple of EPs with both House music and more trancy stuff” on the way and some more Techno in pipeline. With more gigs starting to line up, she’ll be developing her live show concurrently as a very comprehensive package. Our conversation dwindles down as soundcheck is prioritised, but before we part ways until later the evening, and she heads off to the stage, I ask her what her set might be like. “The one tonight”, she says… “is not going to  be chill.”

We’ve got some catching up to do with Cassy

*All photos by Kenny Rodriguez

Cassy (Catherine Britton) has always considered herself a DJ first and foremost. Even though she might have first made  her mark in electronic music through her voice, providing vocals for other producers she insists; “I see myself way more as a DJ than a singer.” A prominent DJ figure today, Cassy travels the world on the back of her skills behind a set of decks and regularly plays two to four times a week from intimate venues like Jæger’s basement to vast cavernous club spaces like Berghain’s Säule.

She is able to go from the immediate intensity of festival crowd at peak time, to the subtle intricacies of a seven-hour set in Berlin. “That’s my job,” she told us in no uncertain terms in the past on this blog. “For me it’s a given, if people pay me to play in the club, and I should pay attention to the crowd.“ She talks from extensive experience as a past Panorama Bar, Trouw, DC-10 and Rex Club resident.

As a recording artist her career has moved perpendicular with her career as a DJ, culminating in her debut LP in 2016, Donna. She’s released records for the likes of AUS music, Perlon and Bass Culture records, and she’s collaborated with some of the most prominent electronic music artists out there. In 2017 she set up her own label, Kwench Records to collaborate with artists like Art Alfie, Demuir and Pete Moss as well as establishing a platform for new artists.

It was since our last encounter with Cassy on this blog, that she’s launched her label and released her debut LP and although she’s been a regular feature in the booth at Jæger, we’ve missed some opportunities to ask her about these developments and others in her career, her music and club culture. We were not going to miss another opportunity however, and with her next set at Jæger looming, we shot over some questions to Cassy, and she happily indulged us. So excuse us, we have some catching up to do….

Cassy plays Frædag with G-Ha & Olasnkii this Friday.

Hello Cassy and happy new year. Do you ever make new year’s resolutions?

I don’t need to make them in the new year as I make resolutions all the time, every week!

I was just looking over your touring schedule for 2018, and you played every week, most often twice a week (that I can see from RA) and all over the world. What do you do in between to recharge?

I try to sleep as much as possible, work out and eat well. I have also gotten back into meditation again more recently.

It’s been a while since we spoke and there have been so many highlights. The release of your album Donna was one of them. Looking back on it now two years down the line, what did the debut LP affirm and how has your personal relationship with the music evolve after you got some distance from it?

It was the first step into a direction I wanted to take, and it was a very good start. My relationship with the music differs. Sometimes I feel like I can’t listen to it anymore, and sometimes I really love it!

The electronic music album is becoming something of a lost art-form, especially in this era of musical consumption. How would you approach a second LP today differently from the last?

With a more relaxed attitude. Worry less about it being an album and trying to make it fit into what an album should be, and see it more as presenting the music that I have made.

With your record label imprint Kwench Records, the first releases were collaborations. What do you get out of the collaborative experience that is different from working solo?

When you collaborate the end result is something you have no idea of, unless you work together a lot of course, but for me that is not usually the case. It’s exciting and you can learn from each other.

“One thing I have learned in my life and my career is to not look into the past, look to the future and build something.”

The last few releases on the label were solo records from other artists. Was this an intentional shift? Will you continue to collaborate with other artists going forward?

The label is a journey, and it takes time to figure out what the best route is. It’s hard to have a vision of something that lasts forever so you have to allow for adjustments. At first, I had a strong vision, but quickly figured out that that vision was not completely possible, and so I am allowing the process of letting it grow more organically, but still having one eye on the road. One thing I have learned in my life and my career is to not look into the past, look to the future and build something.

Ivaylo featured on a compilation for the label, and I believe he’ll be bringing out an EP on Kwench in the new year. What established this relationship between our resident and your label and what can you tell us about this new EP?

The relationship developed by meeting Oslo every single time I am there, and talking about music and life, and feeling a strong connection.

2018 was the year of #metoo. Have you personally experienced a change in the industry since?

No comment. It’s better this way.

For an artist and DJ like you who came up through the ranks of a predominantly chauvinist industry, were you constantly aware of the challenges and how did you approach, and ultimately curb them?

It was extremely challenging from the get-go. Personally, I think having to deal with egomaniac, greedy, and power tripping personalities is worse, and both men and women can behave like that. I didn’t need to be aware these types of personalities, they were just in my face. When people act out of fear and are very short sighted this creates problems, so you just have to do your best to deal with things in your own way where possible, and stay in your power!

You’re an honorary resident by now at Jæger and you must know the crowd pretty well. How does your set adapt to the crowd here?

I feel at home at the club. It’s so easy to adapt there because it’s such a relaxed and open atmosphere.

What is in store for Cassy the recording artist and the Kwench label in 2019?

Now I have had the label for just over a year it’s given me a chance to think about the direction, and so I will be putting more energy into its identity in 2019. I am also working on my own music to broaden my horizons and release on other labels this year.

And lastly can you give us sneak peek into your record bag, and pick out three of your current favourites

Cinthie ‘Together’

Niles Cooper ‘House Gospel’ (Black Loops remix)

Eddie Amador and Dany Cohiba ‘Crazy’ Julian Chaptal remix

The cut with Filter Musikk

The collective post-new-year hangover stings just a little bit harder and longer in Scandinavia. Short days and bitter temperatures plummet the soul to the depths of despair where pessimism and melancholy create miasmic web of hopelessness entanglement. Abandoned on the gloomy moors of resigned wretchedness, our only companion is the empty wail of silence that gapes in ugly contorted disconnected shapes from the fog, but hardly makes a sound, gnawing at our eternal discomfort. Serenity now! Our only salvation is music and in Oslo there is only one man and place that can save us from this desolate wall of silence. Roland Lifjell and Filter Musikk is to the rescue with a new year and a new box of records.

While the entire industry is still incapacitated from the festivities, writhing on the floor, looking to reassemble any semblance of a record, Filter Musikk has already unpacked the first batch nothingness, but Roland Lifjell has got just what we need to get through this trying annual period. Records with no “official” release date or in some cases no official release title, live beyond such trivialities whenever the arrive at Filter Musikk. They take on a timeless quality maturing with age as they continue the lineage of electronic music through the format that started it all… vinyl. A record encased in the physical format at these prices are not things that encourage the throw-away culture of digital consumerism.

“Vinyl import continues at a steady pace” this year says Roland Lifjell and he guarantees that 2019 will also “be a fine musical year.” That remains to be seen Roland, but in the first shipment of the year he sets yet another uncompromising tone and it’s hard to argue with the music. With Roland’s expert help, we sift through these records in an effort to find just what kind of music will take us forward through this year. Broken Beats and a tougher sound all round looks set to continue to dominate the releases, but it will undoubtedly be an eclectic musical year ahead judging from these releases.

Aleksi Perälä – Sunshine EP (Djak-Up-Bitch (DUB)) 12”  

Finish producer Aleksi Perälä first caught the attention of the world through a couple of releases on Aphex Twin’s Rephlex imprint, a suitable home for his expressive electronic sound that loiters in the melodic depths of genres like IDM and Electro. Bold percussive arrangements and visceral arrangements have marked his fooray in electronic music with prolific effort. His releases (not counting EPs or singles) count into the twenties since 2007 mostly on his eponymous AP label.  

The Sunshine EP, which is more like a mini-album, is the most recent, coming off the back of several releases in 2018, including the 2018 LP of the same name. The tracks on the EP are a mastercraft in sound design and production, and even though somehow everything is louder than everything else, there is a natural balance between the parts. Perälä’s percussive treatment dominates tracks with kick drums, irrelevantly pile driving their way through the centre of vast electronic textures, disturbing the surface of the tracks only for a moment, before they resume their natural state, like a footprint in wet sand.

It’s in Perälä’s playful dichotomy between the severe beat arrangements and beatific melodic parts where the music thrives and engages with the listener. The dark timbral quality of those kicks is counterpointed by melodic textures like fairy dust, neutralizing the functionality for something cognitive.

Unknown Artist – Unknown (EEE 004) 12″

You’ve got to love a whitelabel. A simple pencil etching on the inner disc is the only clue to what lies concealed on the grooves of this record. A vocal sample from Madonna’s back catalogue is prominently featured, and naturally for fear of litigation the artist has very wisely chosen to conceal his or her identity.

The curious choice of this particular vocal sample suggest a younger artist though, but the vocal sample apart, it’s actually what lies behind it that made our ears prick up. A deep, rolling bassline modulates like a tsunami through the vacuous space with a sparse percussive ensemble tweaking around the edges. Once you’ve heard the first sixteen bars of this record there’s very little left to be discovered, but it will make a great DJ tool for anybody with a penchant for turn-of the-millenium-madonna. (not sure how it’s still on youtube)

Various – Panorama Bar 07 Part I (Ostgut Ton) 12″

Taken from the latest Panorama Bar mix with nd_baumecker at the helm, this is the first of two EPs with exclusive tracks for the mix. While the second is surely going to be the favourite amongst fans, featuring House darling Ross from Friends, Dave Aju and Duplex, with three deep, expressive House tracks, it’s first EP that caught our attention… uhm well, first.

Specifically, it was Falty DL’s broken beat House contribution that first catches the ear. The airy familiar vocal sample used across nineties rave tracks and the horn synth repeating that familiar yet distant memory of a melody stored way back in the banks of the mind, sets an evocative mood of the past. Accentuated with the pads that weave their way through the arrangement and in the end, there’s a dream-like quality to the track that carries on through the rest of the EP.

Nd_baumecker is known for sets that  proffer a little more than the functional. Never one to shy away from a pop reference or an uplifting melody, the music he selects wanders far across the musical spectrum and on this particular collection of tracks he selects three tracks that set a very salacious tone. Jinjé and Glenn Ludd expound on the Falty DL track with elements of House, Techno, Trance and Disco coming together in very much the same way Baumecker’s sets come together. The three tracks are taken from different points on the recorded mix, but hey work well together on this EP.

Various – Eel Behaviour: Moray (Earwiggle) – 12″

It’s only the second in a series of compilations from Earwiggle, but truth be told we’re a little bit late on this one, because since this came out at the end of November, the label has already released three more editions! While the “Eel Behavior” series is already on “Onejaw” we’ve had to remain content with “Mooray” – better late than never.

This uncompromising electro compilation bears a sharp-toothed grin like the aquatic serpent from the title. Umwelt, The Advent & Zein, Replicants and Galaxian all contribute to the compilation with demanding uptempo Electro cuts. Umwelt and The Advent & Zein set a dystopian tone with darker, lysergic movements around skipping Electro beats, while Galaxian and the Replicants offer a more retro approach to the Electro genre with beat arrangements closer to the Hip-Hop origins of the genre and melodic expressions lifted from eight-bit video games, played through eighties synthesisers.

999999999 – Rave Reworks (NineTimesNine) 12

This is a repress, in fact the entire record is something of a repress. Hoovers and glassy staccato synth stabs take us back to the ninety nineties rave culture through this release.

The Italian duo 999999999 update the antiquated sound with a focus on atmosphere and the tonal percussion in true Techno fashion in its earliest traditions. It is a kind of Techno that started seeping into dance floors in 2018 and looks set to dominate Techno dance floors for the year ahead. Happy new year from the Cut with Filter Musikk!

The lost art of the warm-up DJ with Davidow

It’s an early Monday evening in the lounge upstairs in Jæger and Davidow (Brokesteady and Mandagsklubben) has already had his first request. One of a trio of girls from the suburbs, on their way to a Shania Twain concert, has asked for a prelude from the country songstress, but her slurring appeal goes unanswered. She eyeballs the DJ from under a furrowed brow, but the seasoned DJ merely smiles back, in response to her icy scowl. “She annoys me a little bit” he says through a smile, his words barely piercing the frequencies from the DJ booth speakers. It leaves little impression on him as he carries on serving up a selection of funky house-edits that billow around the edges of the rhythm section.

The tables are dotted sporadically with people and beer glasses, but the dance floor is still empty as patrons settle into the evening ahead. Cerron’s disco classic “Supernature” comes on and feet start to twitch under tables as Chi-Chi Favelas’ voice shrieks about an ominous chemical future. Dystopian lyrical themes contradict an upbeat Disco progression, bridging a gap between the mind and body that will take Davidow into the next phase of his set. The eccentricities start to fall away to make room for the stripped back pulse of an incipient dance floor.

The practise of an opening DJ is becoming something of a lost art in the world today. The subtleties of that first musical contact with an audience and establishing the mood of the night ahead eludes us in an age where immediacy and the idea of a DJ as an artist has dominated the booth. For most DJs coming through the ranks today and for the next generation making their mark, concepts like Boiler Room and Soundcloud have set an unusual standard. With little to no introduction and the DJ-producer honorary in full effect, the DJ is no longer a facilitator, but rather more like an artist. There needs to be some rather inconsequential cohesiveness to the DJ’s set, establishing a sonic identity that has some fundamental relationship to said artist’s recorded works and its effects need to be immediate.

Completely disconnected from the reality of the dance floor (even during the Boiler Room sets you are usually facing a camera and not the audience), the DJ’s role no longer accommodates the club environment, and the set becomes an extension of the DJ’s artistic expression rather than facilitating what’s happening on the dance floor. For a DJ like Davidow, this style of Djing is doing little more than indulging an ego, and when he steps in the booth on a Monday night at 11:00 pm there is no room for an ego without a dance floor.

“It’s important to make people dance,” he says extending his voice over a downtempo Tech-House track, “more important than playing my own selection.” He digs for a longer track through his USB stick, with playlists and track listings extending into the infinite space of his thumb drive. A primal rhythmic track starts snaking its way through the preceding outro with a melody floating through the spaces between the beats coaxed from a quirky panpipe. He selects the extensive track to accommodate room for a conversation rather than the short bursts of questions and answers we’ve been throwing back and forth between the mixes.

“It’s all about positive energies,” he says. “It sends out a good vibe when you step into a place and see two people dancing” and that is what he tries to recreate every Monday through his sets. Contextually that can change with the seasons, making each Mandagsklubben very different from the last.  Whenever Davidow takes to the booth for Mandagsklubben, he will always “check for moods.” For example: “There was a time when there were a lot of people dating on Mondays,” and Davidow soon realised that certain style of “Techno and dating can make a vibe.” He would play “Techno with a little touch of darkness” during that time and it always seemed to work in coaxing budding young lovers onto the dance floor.

But it’s not just about a genre or sound, and Davidow has to juggle many external factors in accommodating the early hours of Mandagsklubben, but two things that remain consistent through his sets are that “it usually starts very slow” and there’s an underlying rhythm that connects all the tracks. In the early sets I like to mix different genres and moods, but I try to let the rhythm be the guideline,” he explains. Rhythm “is the key” to his sets and even when he floats between genres and styles there is a very tangible link through the rhythms of his set.

The panpipe tracks stops abruptly while we talk, ten minutes passing by in the space of a few, belying the languid progression of the song, but Davidow is quick with the next track, picking up the pace of the set as a steady 4-4 beat comes into focus. He says he’s “stopped preparing” for Monday nights at Jæger and just brings everything he has on USB sticks. How does he know which way the night might go musically? “It’s hard to say how, or what I take into consideration,” he replies. “It’s usually what I find the day before I play. He’s “still learning every night” he explains and can never predict which way a night might go. The “positive thing about having your music digitally” for Davidow is that he can often go back ”through playlist seven or eight years back to see what I played on a Monday in November.” He finds it “interesting to find gold now what you thought was shit back then.”

DJing is in a constant state of flux and evolution for Davidow. “Because people change and DJs change, especially myself going through so many different steps in my life,” Davidow perhaps finds himself more adept in the context of the warm up set today more than ever before. Is it experience that makes for a better warm-up DJ?

Back in the beginning when Mandagsklubben was “very much a party concept,” it was “very hard in the beginning and all of us were partying very hard,” says Davidow. Since then they’ve moved the concept from Visk & Vilt to Jæger, and Davidow has become a family man with two kids and a career towards law. Naturally his priorities changed and they “don’t have an after-party every Monday anymore,“ he says with a laugh. “It’s been a long journey” he says, and although he does “miss playing the late hours, there’s no room for that anymore in this period of me life,” he insists. He seems very content in playing the opening hours and setting the stage for his Mandagsklubben compatriots, Jeff Niels and André Bravo.

On this particular night Niels’ absence means he has to pitch it up for André Bravo, who is ready to take the night into the next phase in true uncompromising Bravo- bravado. André pulls down the volume faders and pitches up the tempo and Mandagsklubben sets into overdrive as more dancers join the splattering of bodies on the tight dance floor upstairs congressing under the swirl of light from the mirrorball up above.  A few people still linger around tables in a state of flux, between dancing and standing but Davidow’s work here is done… at least for tonight.

 

*Davidow plays every Monday at Mandagsklubben with Andre Bravo and Jeff Niels as Brokesteady.

 

Album of the Week: Studio Barnhus Volym 1

Since 2010 the Stockholm-based label Studio Barnhus has pursued a very indefinable and eccentric approach to music. Off-kilter House and weirdo pop electronica unites the releases across their discography with label heads, Kornél Kovács, Petter Nordkvist and Axel Boman contributing regularly to the label. Releases from the likes of Baba Stiltz, Matt Karmil and Art Alfie have redefined the Swedish dance floor and beyond, bridging that extensive gap between serious club music and unequivocal guilty pleasures.

Unifying electronic beats with popular musical forms, the artists and label are an unconventional anomaly; non-conformists as a result of conforming to all the norms. There are no musical taboos in Studio Barnhus’ lexicon and the music the label proliferates avoids the pretentious and embraces instant gratification in the context of club music. This first compilation puts this into perspective with a selection of music across the label catalogue that frames these ideas in the broad scope that defines the label.

Label heads Axel Boman and Petter Nordkvist set a serene mood on the opening track as Man Tear, which floats somewhere between the composed vocal serenading of Portable wrapped in the icy sonorities of the Scandinavian electronic dialect. The track sets a tone for the rest of the compilation where a vocal phrase is never to far away and electronic textures are stretched across vast empty spaces. There’s a diverse palette to this record that really showcases the breadth of the Studio Barnhus roster.

From the haunting shoegaze House of Off the Meds to the Kornél Kovács dance floor romper “On Roofs”. Familiar names like DJ Koze, Baba Stiltz, and John Talabot naturally leave their mark on this record, but it’s the newcomers like Bella Boo and the aforementioned Off the Meds that provide a welcomed counterpoint to the dance floor. There’s something odd and eccentric about the record, but it doesn’t alienate or provoke, but rather entices.

Skewed pop references combined with mystical electronics, provide a very interesting listening experience through the course of the record and not only does it contextualise the Studio Barnhus sound, it also hints at where the label will be heading to next.

 

Season’s Greetings

The winter solstice is upon us. Outside my window I spot a glimpse of Jæger’s backyard (Bakgård). A thin film of pure white snow coats the brown terracotta tiles, burying invisible footprints beneath the cold. It was only a few months ago that we were still scurrying about outside with reckless abandon to the sounds of DJs and artists from all across the world. Those incorrigible among us still brave the weather every Saturday to the tune of guilty pleasures selected by MC Kaman, but for the most of us, we’ve staked our claim down in the cozy enclave of the basement. The year is not over; a christmas, a festival and a new year’s party, still awaits, and for a fair few of us, the year never really ends. It’s an immutable loop with no end, no beginning, just the same procedure as every year… James.

In a couple of weeks Jæger hosts the first event of the next year with the same kind of fervour that follows us through each and every week, but should auld acquaintances be forgot, for the sake of a new year, the next month or simply a new day. Can we just take moment to reflect on the year it’s been for Jæger, Oslo’s DJ community, the music and the culture.

Has it been almost year again since Moritz von Oswald and Tony Humphries graced us with their presence? Two legendary figures from the opposite ends of the world, from different musical origins in the same booth in the space of a month. The Disco and House goliath, Tony Humphries represents the legacy of those genres, which Nicky Siano would put into perspective later in the year with Hallelujah Disco; a narrative through the history of Disco and House music from another monolith of the scene. 2018 however, would prove to be Techno’s year, with Moritz von Oswald setting the tone for the year ahead dotted with acts like Octave One, Carl Craig, Dr. Rubinstein, Shed and Ben Sims. Roland Lifjell and Filter Musikk facilitated a few of these Techno-centric events and in some of the truly special occasions the man behind the counter and the records, Roland Lifjell would grace us with a set.

Techno was harder, faster and more tenacious than it’s ever been in 2018. Bold, intrepid beat arrangements and aggressive, DIY textures conjured from despotic machines streamed out of Berlin and into every club around the world, and even we had to submit to its power. Silent Servant, Regis, Reeko and Tommy Four Seven were the DJ ambassadors of this sound, while Aurora Halal, Octave One and Bjarki left their artistic impressions on us in the form of their live sets, but none rattled the cage and ruffled the feathers quite like The Mover, when he stopped by for the newly launched Gatavisa showcase back in September. It was a sound that captured the dissent and the anger in a world dominated by populist politics.

Yes we had our fair share of trying times in 2018 as policy makers spread their cancerous rhetoric through much of Europe and the rest of the world. It was the year of Trump and Brexit and even club culture fell victim to the populist nationalism that informed these news fixtures in 2018. Our neighbours, Blå were the victim of a terrorist attack executed by an individual under the influence of a populist ideology, while our friends in Georgia, Bassiani faced a government crackdown, the likes of which they haven’t seen since the soviet era. The latter however lead to one of the most inspiring scenes of solidarity through music that we’ve experienced since the UK passed the criminal Justice act. The “We dance together, we fight together” campaign has seen Bassiani resume operations in 2018 and as similar protests pop up around Europe in France and Hungary, the hope is alive that we can stem the tide of nationalist populism sweeping over Europe.

It’s a shame politics has infiltrated club culture like it has in 2018, because in the end it is about the music and leaving these issues at the door, the indulgent escapism of a moment and a music shared amongst a group of strangers. While guests have frequented us, it’s the residencies that have remained the constant bridge between music and community. They are the glue that holds us together. The theatrics of Den Gyldne Sprekk and DJ Lekkerman; the deep musical obsession of Øyvind Morken for Untzdag, the community of Det Gode Selskab; the guilty pleasures of Nightflight; the determinism of Brokesteady and Mandagsklubben; the legacy of Daniel Gude and RETRO; the continual motivation of a scene at Ivaylo’s Jæger Mix, and G-Ha & Olanskii’s window to the world in Frædag have remained steadfast in their onerous pursuits week in and week out without fail.

We’ve experienced the entire spectrum of music this year at Jæger from the burgeoning trendsetters like DJ Seinfeld and Ross from friends, to the established veterans like Marco Passarani, Nick Höppner, Mr. Scruff, Francis Harris, Craig Richards and too many more to mention. Finnebassen and Leon Vynehall, honorary Jæger residents have made return visits in 2018 while DELLAs Drivhus, Karima F’s Affirmative Action, Charlotte Bendiks’ IRONI, Vinny Villbass’ Badabing and Prins Thomas have all set up shop across our two floors to offer some needed contrast over a Saturday night.

Our record shelf is almost full with records acquired from Filter Musikk, and music from Hubbabubbaklubb, Sex Judas, and Kuuk have made severe impressions on our playlist. 2018 is also the year we’ve established The Cut with Filter Musikk, our very own singles club, with the records that have been making the rounds on the Oslo circuit. A record from DJ Hell got us into trouble with those authoritarian sensors at facebook, while we’ve discovered a host of new artists like the Burrell Connection, Giant Swan and O/H as well as some classic reissues and new music from the likes of André Bratten, Rulefinn, Fett Burger and Telephones.

The music, both off and on the dance floor had been so diverse this year, and the DJs had been serving up a smorgasbord of music from the three corners of electronic music all year long. The closest we’ve come to a scene had been the dying embers of Lo-Fi, which turned out to just be House music with DJ Seinfeld and Ross from Friends rising to popular heights this year with DJ sets from the former and an album and live show from latter making a formidable impact on the global scene. And yes, we had them were here too.

Thanks to G-Ha & Olanskii’s Frædag we’ve had the world on our doorstep and we’ve been spoiled in Oslo this year as internationally acclaimed DJs became more and more accessible and our little venue, offering the contrast from the large vacuous spaces from the rest of Europe that bring these larger than life DJs and artists back to the roots of it all. An intimate cabin space nestled in the subterranean depths of the city in the bosom of a 10 000 watt Funktion One system can never really compete with the 1 000+ arena venues that are dominating the scene but we’ve happily held our own, and we’ll continue to hold our own through to the end of this winter solstice and beyond…

 

Download nd_baumecker Panorama Bar 7

nd_baumecker releases the much anticipated 7th edition of club’s mix series

Christmas has come early in our office with the release of nd_baumecker’s Panorama Bar mix, on the very same day he’s playing in our basement. After some delay with the release of this mix, it is finally out today.

It’s been four years since the last Panorama bar mix and the Panorama Bar resident since 20014 takes the honours for this edition.  “This composite identity as a selector, collector, club curator and musician feeds heavily into the diversity of Baumecker’s 120-minute vinyl-only mix,” says Ostgut Ton.

Exclusive tracks from Falty DL, Ross from Friends, Jinjé, Gen Ludd, Dave Aju and Duplex joins an eclectic playlist with Mr. Baumecker’s distinctive sound underpinning the selections. It’s “deep, unpredictable, funky, bassline-heavy, melodic, and seamless flowing between different rhythms and key-changes” according to Ostgut Ton, who’ve made the mix available for free download today via their site.

You can download the mix here and catch nd_baumecker in our booth tonight.

Jamie 3:26 postponed

Pål Strangefruit fills in for Jamie 3:26 tonight at Daniel Gude’s RETRO.

As a result of the drone incident in Gatwick, we regret to announce that Jamie3:26 is unable to join us tonight for RETRO. After his flight was cancelled, we scrambled to get the Chicago artist over on a later flight, but were unable to secure a seat for any time today.

We have postponed the booking till next year, where we’ll find a new suitable date for Jamie 3:26, but RETRO will RETRO commences with resident Daniel Gude and special guest, Pål Strangefruit filling in for Jamie 3:26.

Always looking forward with Teebee

Teebee discusses the origins and future of Drum & Bass in an extensive interview that traces the lineage of the genre through his own career. 

The general consensus around here is that Techno is the music of the future. We’ve adopted it as our mantra for some time, and I’ve written about the subject at length, but perhaps I and we’ve been getting it all wrong, and it’s Drum and Bass that is in fact the music of the future.

Did Drum and Bass actually supplant Techno at some point as the most innovative music in the electronic music canon? A half an hour on the phone with Torgeir Byrknes (Teebee) points to a resounding “yes”. A theme that echoes through our conversation talks of looking ahead, negating nostalgia and embracing cultural development. It’s about progression, it’s about living in the future, adapting to your surroundings and about assuming everything that has come before you is irrelevant. “You’ve got to step up if you want to be a part of this,” explains Torgeir in no uncertain terms towards the end of our conversation, “because time waits for no-one.”

It’s a very existentialist perspective for an artist of Torgeir’s calibre. As Teebee he’s been a genre figurehead for as long as it’s existed. He’s released records on prominent Drum and Bass labels like Moving Shadow and Photek Productions as well as establishing his own significant contribution to the industry in the form of Subtitles. He’s also one half of Calyx and Teebee, who have been a major contributor to Andy C’s RAM records and one of the biggest crossover successes in Drum and Bass. And he’s played to audiences in the tens of thousands as a DJ, but at the heart of all of this is a humble and an almost altruistic ideology that informs his work across all these projects. For Torgeir it’s all about “the art and love of culture rather than for the financial aspects and billing on a poster” and the older he gets the “more important that becomes.”

 

 

At the centre of this culture is the idea of progression for the 40-something artist and DJ, and like every other aspect of your social structure, it needs to be nurtured and it needs to constantly evolve and adapt with its surroundings. This means “you can either change with the times or die” and in Drum and Bass this sentiment is what keeps the genre moving forward in Torgeir’s opinion before he adds “but we still remember where we’ve come from.”

Drum and Bass’ legacy is intertwined with the legacy of Rave culture in the UK and Europe. It gestated in the broken beats of early nineties Techno, and as that genre moved into stoic, minimalists 4-4 kicks, Drum and Bass grasped at the shredded beats of proto-acts like Prodigy and LTJ Bukem to make its own intense impression on the world. By the late nineties it was an international phenomenon with people like Goldie, Photek and Andy C becoming household names and dedicated scenes coming up in places as remote as South Africa and Australia, all before the incremental rise of the Internet. Teebee was an integral part of this movement by then, but for him and his peers the music and scene has its roots much further back than that, back in the ninety-eighties when as a youth living in Bergen, Norway Hip Hop came to Scandinavia.

“I have a lot to be thankful for,” he says about growing up in Bergen “because ultimately that’s where I discovered everything that lead to me doing music for life.” Torgeir’s story is a familiar story in the Norwegian electronic music scene of that generation. Breakdancing and records like Beat Street sparked an early interest in music, which for Torgeir came at the age of five. “I have never been as impressed with anything in my life,” he says about the “acrobatics of breakdancing.” Breakdancing led to music and Torgeir started buying records with his own money as soon he was able. It was a “really exciting time for us,” he says “because it genuinely felt new and history proved later that it was.” The music was “real and raw” and Torgeir still looks back at those informative years as the building blocks for what he would eventually do in his own music.  

Drum & Bass at Jæger with Teebee during Romjulfestivalen

The music led to DJing through the local youth centre, and when the UK rave scene broke, Torgeir’s “fascination with broken-beats” turned him onto the new emerging sounds coming out of the UK, especially “those first Prodigy records on XL recordings.” It was “like hip-hop but flipped,” he reminisces about the sound that would eventually come to dominate his interest as Hip Hop’s golden era started coming to a close in the mid-nineties.

One of the most significant moments in Torgeir’s career came during the ninth grade after he and some friends peeled off from the rest of the class do some shopping in the white label section of a neighbourhood record store. “I found a record that just blew… me… a-way” he says dissecting the last few syllables like a chopped amen break. He brought the record home, but the white label yielded no information about the artist or the label behind this record. It weighed on him and he started calling up record shops in the UK – much to the “extreme dismay” of his parents – playing this record down the phone to anybody that would listen. “All I wanted was to hear more of this kind of music,” he says and encouraged by a youthful exuberance and a musical hunger he eventually found the title and artist behind this record. It was LTJ Bukem’s “Demon Theme” and that record sealed Torgeir’s fate and a lifelong obsession with this music and its culture.

 

 

His career in production came from necessity, rather than want, when as a youth in 1993 his record collection was still rather small. When tasked to do a DJ set, four records simply wouldn’t cut it to provide music for a whole set. “I thought, I can moan about there not being enough records to play or I can try do something about it,” he remembers of that fateful experience. He asked his dad to “front” him some money for a computer studio and what “started off as just a curiosity, turned into a massive love affair” by the time Torgeir came of age.

As Teebee, Torgeir has since released three albums, not including his collaborative albums, and countless EP’s in a career that spans twenty-odd years today. And as Drum and Bass evolved, growing through the height of its popularity in the late ninety nineties and early 2000’s and then falling out of favour with audiences that turned to genres like Dubstep, Torgeir remained steadfast. There’s an interview from around that time with Torgeir online where, posed with the question of making Dubstep, he simply smirks by way of dismissal, and says; “we don’t like dubstep, it’s a waste of time”. It is clear from talking to him and by the work he has done that Torgeir and Teebee is a lifer when it comes to Drum n Bass.

He was there for the best moments of the genre at the hype, when divergent scenes had started cropping up the world over, but he says “it’s nothing on the hype of today” stretching out the first syllable of “nothing” like the sub-bass drawl on his classic Sade-sampling track, Lifeless. “Back then the thought of going to Siberia to play to 10 000 people or Korea to play to 20 000 people” would be completely unheard of. At the height of its popularity, the people behind it were “kind of misunderstood, which made it a bit of a political statement” according to Torgeir. They were largely outcasts of society, who “bonded over something really exciting” that popular culture could never quite grasp at that time. Torgeir looks back fondly on those early years, especially the Sunday Sessions at the Blue Note in London, which he would later name a track after. He and his Norwegian peers would regularly fly over to London for the Sunday Sessions as soon as they came of age. “That’s how I spent all my money” exclaims Torgeir. “The beautiful thing about the Sunday Sessions,” was that “they started so early, so we could catch the first few hours before we had to catch the last plane back.” It was at these nights that Torgeir would get his demos in the form of ADAT tapes (this was before CD burners) “into the hands of people like Grooverider.”

“I’m so glad I was a part of it,” he says about the melting point of the scene “because you really had to go out of your way to be part of something you truly love.” He “doubts future generations are going to see anything similar” but almost in the same breath he says “it wasn’t all better before,” catching himself before he falls into some nostalgia. Drum and Bass is a technologically driven genre, and if you don’t evolve with the technology you’d “be left behind“ according to Torgeir. “My strength as a producer and an artist,” he says “is that I’m always looking forward.”

 

 

That was at the root of Drum and Bass’ ultimate demise, during a period in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s according to Torgeir; people weren’t looking forward anymore. “My main problem with how culture develops is that art imitates art,” says Torgeir of this period. “So all the new producers that grew up listening to my stuff, they’re going to make music inspired by the genre and in a sense it will be mainly watered down, because we drew our influences from elsewhere.” He believes that the scene has gotten back to those early ideals of Drum n Bass again and that’s why it’s currently enjoying such a big resurgence, bigger yet than it was even during the height of its popularity. “People have stopped looking at what everybody else is doing” he suggests, and from the young bedroom producers to the established old guard like Teebee it’s breathed new life into the genre again.

Torgeir has had to constantly evolve with the scene and the culture to still remain relevant and in that vein he is wrapping up that part of his legacy today with a couple of Archive releases, records and tracks that were previously unavailable, and re-mastering his first two albums, “Blacksciencelabs” and “Through the eyes of the Scorpion”. These records still stand as barometers of the genre and even though Torgeir is always looking towards the future, we have to take a moment to reflect on them too.

“With Black Science I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve and I went for it”, he says. “I was young, hungry and arrogant. I was brimming with confidence and the record reflects that. That record is unapologetic, it’s raw and it’s me.” It’s the record that catapulted his career, getting DJ offers all around the world on the merit of that record, which in turn left him with a dilemma when it became time to record his next LP, “Through the eyes of the scorpion.” It was “a difficult record to complete” for Torgeir, because he was “torn by what my heart was telling  me to do and what the club reaction told me to do” and to “find a happy compromise wasn’t easy.” Between those two records that raw, unapologetic premise ties the two records together, but on “Through the eyes of the Scorpion” there’s a polished, cinematic narrative that very much reflects that era of hyper-modern production through the progress of computer recording technology of the time it’s recorded in. “You want to something to work on a head and body level,” says Torgeir about his music, “that’s the main challenge of writing music for me.”

And how has his music evolved since? “The ultimate change is  that music sounds better,” he says. “You can take something that was made in 1995 and make it identical. If you took the same record today and made it to the best of your abilities, it would sound a million times better.”

After these releases he is looking forward to making some new music as Teebee, but he is currently committed to a contract as Calyx and Teebee with RAM Records, before he can work on any new music of his own. “I signed an exclusive three-album deal” he says and vows “never to do that again” after they complete this album together. It’s “been a tremendous stress” on Torgeir who refers to Larry Cons (Calyx) as a brother but believes: “Who I am is not the sum of the parts that is me and Larry.” They are currently finalising the album, which is just not quite there yet in their opinion. They “keep going back to it because it doesn’t feel like a record yet,” he says. “An album has to tell a story, it can’t just be a collecting of singles. You want to showcase what you can do, but you also want to showcase your progression.”

Progression, there it is again, that word that dots our conversation throughout. This ideology haunts Torgeir’s entire musical purpose, from making records to DJing. In the context of a DJ set, he hardly plays anything from his back catalogue because his role he believes is to play “the most cutting edge, groundbreaking music around” for audiences. He might play some of the more recent releases that still “hold up” from his point of view, but he “won’t even go near” his older tracks. He keeps echoing the altruist approach that brought him into the scene and in that spirit he is also raising his Subtitles label from the dead. He’s got “big plans” for the label in the new year when he is out of his record contract and it’s all intrinsically tied to the ethos that runs through his entire musical career; it’s about doing it “more for the culture and the progression of that culture. “

 

The craft of Suzanne Kraft

Diego Herrera is a prodigious musical talent. In the eight years he’s been active as a producer, he’s made seven LP’s as Suzanne Kraft; released an underground dance floor monster EP in 2015 as Dude Energy; has collaborated with the likes of P. Relief and Jonny Nash on various Eps and LPs; and most recently he’s released an LP under the new alias SK U Kno. Did we miss anything? Possibly, Herrera is a very productive artist and his musical reach spreads far and wide, and there is sure to be some projects under pseudonyms or collaborations that have eluded us.

 

 

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Herrera’s name first cropped up on the LA online radio channel, Dublab. He rose through their ranks from intern to programmer and host, while concurrently refining his musical voice as a producer and artist. He got his first real break in the latter after releasing the sleek deep Disco/House “Green Flash” on Running Back. With elements of House, Dub, Disco and Funk coursing through the release, Herrera’s eclectic musical influences made for a unique sonic signature in his work.

He followed it up with EPs on Young Adults, Noise in my Head and Kitjen, expounding on the diversity in his sound with a series of bold dance floor cuts that made severe impressions in record bags. He eventually moved to Europe, Amsterdam to be exact, and took his career into overdrive, where he went from a EP/single artist to an album artist for Jonny Nash’s Melody as Truth label.

The albums, like his EPs favoured a diverse approach, with the serene ambience of a record like “What you get for being young” counterpointing the pop-centric constructions of his debut LP, “Talk from home” in an exquisite balance that showed his variation as an artist, but also defined an attitude in sound. Built around the polarity of vintage synthesizers and organic samples with intuitive rhythms that break with common tropes, Suzanne Kraft is unlike anything you are likely to have heard before.

He transports this to the booth with a digger’s fascination for music that finds him in good company in Amsterdam where people like Antal and Young Marco occupy a very a special place on the DJ circuit. Naturally he’s found a kindred spirit in Øyvind Morken too and as the pair get ready to go back to back this Wednesday in our booth, we took the opportunity to ask the visiting DJ and producer some burning questions.

Untzdag with Suzanne Kraft and Øyvind Morken

Hello Diego. Where are you originally from and how did you get your start in this kind of music?

I was born – and raised in – Los Angeles to a mother and father who have always been supportive and encouraging of any creative endeavour since day 1.

Which came first; DJing or making music?

Making music.

You had your start at dublab in LA. How did you end up there and how do you think it aided your career?

I started at dublab as an intern when I was still in high school, about 16 years old. I was a fan of the station and just wanted to be involved in any way, so I wrote them an email and got a response from Ale (the now station director.) Both frosty (station director since 1999) and Ale were hugely influential on my musical worldview by constantly showing me all sorts of music across all genres. I eventually became a staff member and hosted a weekly radio show for about 4 years – first with SFV Acid and then with Daddy Differently. dublab sort of became both my playground and classroom over the course of roughly 6 years.

I noticed there is a lot of that Berlin Techno sound currently happening in LA. Are there places, parties, or record stores that accommodated the more eclectic approach that you favour in your music and DJ sets?

As far as record stores go Amoeba will always be at the top of my list. The shear size and turnover there has always lead to me finding countless good ones.

Places – nothing compares to driving through and around the city listening to music.

Parties – I’d always prefer a bar or a friend’s house.

You’re obviously not there anymore since you moved to Amsterdam. What encouraged you to move this side of the Atlantic and why exactly the Dutch capital?

Over the course of a few years doing European tours I saw the potential to perhaps make a living off playing shows and DJing if I lived in Europe. I took a gamble and, so far, it’s paid off. I picked Amsterdam because of the concentration of friends who live here.

What are some of the differences between playing for a European audience compared to a US audience?

My experiences playing in Europe greatly outnumber those in the US so I can’t really comment.

There are some obvious differences to your Dude Energy alias and your works as Suzanne Kraft. How do you approach all your musical projects differently?

I don’t have any conscious approach towards working on music. I tend to work on many, disparate sounding things simultaneously and just slap a different name on it when it’s done.

Am I right in thinking that Suzanne Kraft is more focussed on the album format?

You could say that.

Each LP is very different. Do you usually have a thematic framework or concept informing the albums as Suzanne Kraft?

Each record has usually been the result of finding a sound palette or workflow I like. Every record I’ve done on Melody As Truth has been recorded very quickly because of this – usually within a week.

When you talk about a sound palette and workflow, it sounds like each album is usually built up from something like a single synthesiser that informs the other sounds too. Is that the case?

In essence, that’s correct. Although historically it’s been more of a constellation of equipment or a new/different studio to work in. I tend to work on music most days, playing and recording aimlessly until one day I strike upon a string of cohesive ideas that, quickly, start forming something you could call a record.

Your records as Kraft are quite diverse in terms of sound. I imagine like your DJ sets, you’re attracted to diversity in music, but what’s the single thread that ties it altogether for you as an artist?

Probably some kind of internalized emotional narrative. I’ve learned I’m not a very expressive person but – and I do recognize how saccharine and cliché this can read – music does serve as my best outlet of expression.

Do you feel there needs to be a relationship between the music you make and the music you play out?

I think there is certainly an element that is inextricable between the two – an exchange of influence from one to the other in either direction.

You’re last LP was actually a collaboration with Jonny Nash. How do these collaborations filter into your own music?

With Jonny they’ve become inescapable… We’ve been sharing a studio for two years now. But in general I find a good collaboration with anybody to be freeing, insightful and, most importantly, effortless. That record, ‘Passive Aggressive’, is a perfect example – we recorded and mixed it in 4 days.

That was the last LP in 2017 that had your name on it. What will your next recorded project be and sound like?

I’ve got a handful of projects in the oven at the moment some of which might be more experimental things, a 5 year old pop EP and some more straightforward club stuff. Some of it might sound like this:

 

The new stuff LP as SK U sounds amazing. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

The ‘U Kno’ record was a result of working on a bunch of sketches for a couple of live shows I did at the end of last year. I exported all these fragments and track elements to present this sort of mixed collage. No ‘Label’ expressed interest in releasing what they heard at one of the shows and so I re-created the arrangement with some amendments

Why did you create yet another a new alias in this case?

Oh who knows… :) Putting it together felt like a “new chapter,” so I decided to title the chapter.

What music from other artists are currently always with you, and how do you see your night going when you’re with us?

Bruce, Wah Wah Wino, C.A.R., P Relief, SFV Acid, Niagara, General Ludd to name a few.

I’m quite looking forward to the night at Jæger. Øyvind’s a good laugh so I hope to share some good laughs.

 

Album of the week: Kuuk – Live fra Blitz

“Er du klarer for Kuuk!” Screams Mira Berggrav Refsum from the stage during a live performance at Blitz in Oslo, and ironically now, that she and Ragna Solbergnes have called time on Kuuk, Norway finally is ready for Kuuk. The recording, taken in 2016, is their last artistic impression on the world and closes a chapter on one of the most exciting groups ever to come out of Norway.

From their stage personas, to the videos and the extent from which their poured themselves into their art, Kuuk will be sorely missed, and it’s doubtful that we will see the likes of a band like them for some time to come.

Conceived during an after party in 2013 – of course they were – Kuuk took the stage and Norway by storm without a single song in their repertoire. By 2014 they released their first single, “Htg” and by the time the video hit You Tube and every Norwegian social media channel, Kuuk was on everybody’s lips. It remained a side-project however for the two Oslo rappers, who called on a group of local musicians and producers like Sahrish Abbas to get their special brand of nachspiel Hip Hop to the recorded format with singles like “Hor,” “10000 High Fives” and “Klitthopp” making a sever impression on the local scene and beyond.

 

 

While they’ve always denied any political message in their music, in a recent interview with Blitz, Mira does suggest “whether we wanted it or not, KUUK is political.” They inadvertently became Gay icons, even though everybody in the band is heterosexual and it’s hard to ignore their gender in an age when Hip Hop is still dominated by homophobic chauvinists. A political message is especially hard to avoid in an age when everything is scrutinised under a microscope by social media’s amateur critics, but it shouldn’t diminish the impact that their music made (even for non-Norwegian natives).

Dark, impetuous beats grind against coarse bottom-heavy bass movements with Mira and Ragna’s dichotomous vocals going punch for punch through their music. And while their singles, EPs and videos made for titillating entertainment, their energy on stage was unmatched, so it seems only appropriate that they call end to the project with this document of their prowess on stage. 

This record perfectly captures that brutal intensity they have on stage. Although unfortunately we are denied their striking visual appearance through the audio recording, the low quality recording and the raw and impetuous performance puts you right there in the moment at Blitz with Kuuk. It’s a shame it had to come to an end, because now more than ever, Norway, no the world… needs Kuuk.

From fresh disco to techno with Adolpho & Franky

Hailing out of Lausanne in Switzerland, Adolpho & Franky are the residents and the might behind the region’s clubbing institution, Folklor. A dominant force in electronic music in the western region of Switzerland, they’re unique individual experiences and visions in music have come together in a unique DJ-collaboration that regularly sees them playing abroad at places like Watergate in Berlin and Sankeys in Ibiza.

The Swiss-German duo are composed of Ramon (Vintage.Franky) and Fab (Flashfab) two DJs from different generations, who came together seven years ago to combine forces across musical genres, styles and generations. Although they’ve dabbled in production they’re proclivity remains in the booth as facilitators for the party.

They’ll be heading out to Jæger this Sunday as part of Folklor takeover at Det Gode Selskab and with the event looming we wanted to find out more about them and Folklor and sent them some questions via email.

Hey Ramon and Fab. How did you guys meet and what brought you together, musically?

Vintage Franky : Back in 2011 I was looking for new talent for my first club called “La Ruche”. Fab was playing as a duo called Das Hutwerk. The two sounded super fresh and I offered them a gig. The first meeting was a bit weird, I felt Flash Fab was big-headed but the second meeting, we both realized that the two of us would be a great story of love and music. Laughs.

Were you DJs before you started playing together?

Flashfab: I started playing in 2008

Vintage.Franky: I started playing in 1991 when I was about to be 17 years but before I was a breakdancer.

What do each of you bring to the duo and where do you think your tastes and styles cross over?

We do indeed have a age difference of 14 years on paper but in our musical approach, we are quite similar. Apart from the experience behind the wheels of steel, nothing really differs. We are both very hungry for music and we both have a decent musical knowledge across all styles. Also we consume a lot of parties and clubbing experiences and we look forward the future and the evolution of music with a great appetite.

Tell us a bit about your club, the FOLKLOR?

To be quick, the Folklor is a club that bears his name, all the music and electronic folklores are welcome. We wanted to make a club that revolves around artists of all kinds, we have carefully studied the interior architecture to make the place as pleasant as possible to the public, we offer quality drinks behind our bars a very normal prices for the Swiss market but the most important point is our SOUNDSYSTEM which was built around the club.

Is there a very close knit community in Lausanne for this kind of music and who are some of the DJs, artists, clubs and record stores that we should know about there?

Regarding the united scene, it is true that one of our primary goals is to unite as many people as possible around our cause. When we see potential within an artist we approach him and ask him to join the family. When we speak of predispositions we are not talking only about pure talent, because for us the behavior of the artist is an integral part of the values ​​we want to put forward as well. We believe that bringing together all kinds of strengths allows us to benefit from each other’s synergy. We are very happy with our work now .

I spoke to Kūn and they told me there was quite a healthy scene in the region around the nineties. What are your personal experiences of DJ culture in the region?

Vintage.Franky: I think I’m the only one who can answer that question because my colleague was still wearing diapers at that time;))). Yes, the early 90s were really crazy in the area. The first Raves started at the Montreux Casino with the Dancefloor Syndroma parties, monsters like Tony Humphries were invited, I was personally very much in electronic music from the beginning. On the clubbing side we had the MAD in Lausanne with residents like Laurent Garnier and guests of the brand all weekends “Sven Vaeth, Carl Cox etc.etc. It was in 90ies . I still have a lot of shivers running through my body when I think about it.

You play abroad a lot too. Can you make any distinction between the styles of DJing at home that’s different from what the audiences expect abroad?

It really depends on where we play but actually we do not prepare our sets in the same way depending on the country or club that we visit. We can already tell you that we never play twice the same set even in our club. We are always studying the place where we are going to perform to find the best points of attachment with the public, it is very important to us.

The sets I’ve heard online are mostly of electronic nature, but span quite the depth of electronic music. What do you look for in music in your sets?

It is indeed important for us that the full spectrum is well covered by most of our selections, it is key to give emotion to our sets and the musical colors are always at the center of the spectrum. The rhythm, the swing and the groove are wonderful but without the color that the melody offers something is lost in our opinion. Then concerning our style I would say that if we were to compare ourselves to a doctor we would be a generalist and you know what, everybody goes see a generalist!

Besides your 2014 release Electronik Bomb, you’ve made your mark as DJs. What is it about DJing you prefer over production, and are there any plans to make a follow up?

We did neglect our studio time to open a restaurant and a beautiful club, Of course this took us a lot of time. We still managed to keep our gigs steady. We went back to work in the studio this summer and we have 4 beautiful tracks coming out soon on very good labels and next we are organizing to start our Foklor label by the beginning of the year.

Lastly what are you packing in your record bag for your stint at Jæger?

In our Dj Bag, we planned a melting pot of bombs ranging from “fresh disco to techno ” that always carry a positive good mood. We are really looking forward to seeing you with our friends KUN. It’s going to be a goooood one!

 

The Cut with Filter Musikk

It is the season to be rated and ranked. Seriously, I thought we were done with this? Ever since Resident Advisor penned that very “sincere” open-letter about stopping their yearly ranking of DJs – right after they had just released a best-of list I might add – I was under the impression that the general consensus had shifted from blatant objective favouritism, to everybody just making up their own mind about what they’ve enjoyed listening to this year. Apparently that’s not the case as Mixmag, DJ Mag and host of others start rolling out their best-of lists for 2018 – from best of DJs to best EPs and mixes. Even those sanctimonious harbingers of cool at the gate of electronic music, Resident Advisor couldn’t help themselves and have already compiled a best-of-albums and a best-of-tracks selected by a group of very eager-to-please elves waiting in their ranks.

But what of all the artists that are still releasing records in 2018; what of the limited pressings of records, baring little more than whitelabel; what of the ones that don’t have a mailing list bombarding the media types with familiar names, labels and tags? How can one piece of music be better than the next anyway when there is no absolute objectivity behind one person’s choice over another? If a DJ was the best DJ in 2018, was s/he a worse DJ in 2017? What about the albums you didn’t hear or the music, that like most music, simply exists without the eternal hype machine plugging it to the media?

Records like those do exist; The whitelabels, the artists and the labels that refuse to pander to the music media and the capitalist systems that tip “objective” favourable scales with a wad of cash. That’s why we and Filter Musikk, started The Cut, to put a spotlight on all this “other” music; the not-good-enough (or more likely not popular-enough) to make it on to the best-of, better-than-the-rest of lists. These are not the best records out of the new releases (sometimes they aren’t even new), but rather the releases where Filter Musikk and Jæger’s tastes converge for that brief moment in a fortnight.

Don’t, for a single moment however think that his is going to be something like the best of the cut of 2018. No, Roland Lifjell is still taking deliveries of new records, the latest in the cutting edge world of electronic club music. In fact, he has just unpacked a fresh batch recently. It’s the last batch of records for the year, but then there’s still tomorrow, because like P.Diddy on a sugar cookie, music “can’t stop won’t stop uh-uh-uhh.” This crimbo edition of the cut with Filter Musikk we’re saving you from the ranked and the rated, the popular and obnoxious to get back to the thing that matters above all else… the music.  

 

Ajukaja – Untitled (Bergerac) 12″

From the vaults of Red Rack’em’s Bergerac label, comes four Deep House cuts from Estonian producer, Ajukaja. There’s always something a off-kilter about Ajukaja’s music and this record doesn’t fail to produce its own quirky, eccentric results. Combining synthesisers, samplers and vocals, Ajukaja doesn’t exceed the parameters of House music persay, but he does offer a view from the side through a pair Bootsy Collins’ formal glasses.

From the treatment of vocals, often pitched down to foreign abstract elements bouncing off the surface of grooving beat concoctions, this record gives us a fresh new alternative take on a genre that has become too comfortable in its own shoes. Testing the boundaries of House music, his approach is unique and foregoes formulaic function for an eerie expressionism.

The sluggish basslines and sedate vocal of the opening track “Mhmhmh” drags its feet through an oozing mire of synthesizers and found sounds. The deep, grumbling vocal crawls out from the depths of a sunken hole, urging you close to the speaker. A reserved down-tempo rhythm indulges the body in subliminal rhythms that groove with a gangster lean. From that opening track to the inventive use of vocoder on “Walk”, and the haunted disco of “Ekleeer”,  Ajukaja’s music hardly confirms to any kind of template.

Dopplereffekt – Athanatos (Leisure System) 12″

There are so many imperceptible layers to Dopplereffekt’s music. From the influence of Kraftwerk on the group, to the scientific themes that course through their work, and all the other mysterious abstract concepts that influence each record, decoding a new Dopplereffekt record is like trying to piece together a 4-D puzzle in minecraft. There’s never a guide, a clue or some red thread to follow, but as you contemplate these themes and more, you’re allowing yourself to be swallowed way down in the rabbit hole of Dopplereffekt to a point where you are completely immersed in their music.

While Gesamtkunstwerk-era Dopplereffekt is still the best example of the group’s work, they’ve hit something of new stride in their relationship with Leisure System since 2013’s “Tetrahymena.” They’ve followed it up with a split release with Objekt and an Ambient electro LP called “Cellular Automata” and now their back with the genetically-themed “Athanatos” for the label.  

Dopplereffekt are at their best in this realm with swinging electronic beats and punchy bass-line workouts like the second, half of this EP. When they move too far too left, with electronic experiments overwhelming the track and not rewarding  the body the results can often fall flat, but luckily they’ve contained that aspect of their DNA to the title track only. “Hayflick Limit” especially harks back to that golden era Dopplereffekt with vocals, bouncing beats and textures evocative of Drexciya’s underwater escapades finding a common ground in their production.

They’ve saved for last though with “Mitosis” which is just classic Dopplereffekt, and “Athanatos” is definitely worth it for that alone.

 

Psyk – Voiceprint Remixes (Non Series) 12″

Manuel Anós’s Psyk gets the remix treatment over on his own label, Non Series with three blistering takes on his “Voiceprint” EP from earlier this year. Tangible functionality is the key to these remixes, as the three remix artists do away with any idiosyncrasies for the sake of the dance floor. Even Peter Van Hoesen, who in his own music usually offers some kind of dynamic partnership between the beats and melodies, foregoes anything that doesn’t work on an immediate level on his interpretation of “Falling”. Neel and Shifted toe the same line with “Night Current” and “Voiceprint” respectively, re-interpreting the originals as autonomous and brazen DJ tools.

 

 

Code 6 – Untitled (Midnight Drive) 12″ reissue

Yet another blast from the past, finally getting a re-issue. When people are all out of new ideas, digging through the archives is sometimes the best solution. It’s that shot in the arm we need to reset, rewind and get back to the original ideas. Code 6 is one of the many Joey Beltram aliases forgotten in time, appearing on three or four releases before completely dissolving by the mid-nineties.

Code 6 was his escape from the hard-edged “hoover sound” of European Techno he helped pioneer in the early nineties where the records shared more in common with the emerging break-beat Detroit sound from artists like Carl Craig. This re-issue of the last of the Code 6 releases captures the current zeitgeist in the UK for the return of the break-beat and a more a melodic approach to the dance floor.

Synth movements hover (not hoover) above the shards of splintered beats, softening the harsh exterior of determined drum machines, with layers of evocative charge. Everything Beltram touches as Code 6 is simply drenched in brilliant layers of harmony and melody that languish in their own reverie as they fill the spaces between the beats. You gotta love a re-issue.

 

 

Laksa – Delicates (Ilian Tape) 12″

Ilian tape are an uncompromising label. They are not a label that indulges a sound as much as an attitude. If you’re looking for something familiar, cosy and easy to play amongst the rest of the conformists, Ilian Tape is not your label; here, there be monsters. Rhythm structures that defy not only convention but physics, brooding electronics and body punching percussion are the order of the day at Ilian tapes and on the particularly trying days, even we have to pass up an Ilian Tapes release, but not this day.

UK artist Laksa makes his second appearance on the label in as many years following up “Camo” with the ironically titled “Delicates”. The title track lures you into a very false sense of security under the misnomer, utilising some breathy synths and sequences, before the second track on the EP, “Madu’s Break” has the record tumbling down a flight of stairs in an ingracious onslaught of broken beats and glitching musical interfaces. It’s a ferocious 6-minute percussive track that moves like an improvised diatribe through a musical vitriol, exploding in a release of tension that has been building up through the preceding track.

There’s a general continuity that flows between the tracks, where one takes up from where the other left off, and after the all-mighty energy of “Madu’s Break”, Laksa tempers his sound for “Dust” before it subsides in “Yogi’s Choice”. It’s rare to find a narrative like this through an EP. Delicates is an intense, deft-defying experience through four tracks that uphold that uncompromising Ilian Tape ethos, but Laksa puts his own stamp on the ideology through gnashing fractured beats, crunchy synthesisers and the omnipotent bass billowing through the production.

 

The Gospel of House Music

Will Bankhead, the unflinching gauge of cool in electronic music and head of Trilogy Tapes recently dispelled some sage advice via his twitter account: “A lot of you experimental music dudes need some gospel house shoved up your arse”. In an age of heads dropped low as deep, indistinguishable Tech-House beats eddie around uniform dance floors – only to stroke the ego of an over zealous coke-head in the booth – Bankhead’s comment hits a salient nerve. Heavy-handed, disenfranchised DJs playing 125 BPM 4-4 kicks at 11:00 at night to an empty dance floor need to re-evaluate their sets and perhaps the best place to start is to return the roots of House music. Gospel choruses and throaty vocal performances exalting syncopated beats from their hallowed vaults contained on wax, is the only appropriate way to communicate the reverend nature of this culture we call House music.

 

 

Think about it… An early morning in the company of your peers, singing and dancing along to music as commanded from a raised pulpit… “It’s like church,” Tony Humphries once famously said“ you know what I mean? Especially on Sunday mornings.” The club is our church, the DJ is our reverend and the music is made to raise the spirits. We’ve subjugated the omnipotent deity and our only absolution is the momentary escape from the realities waiting outside, but the similarities to a place of worship is eerily consistent; but in modern times there has been something important lacking. It’s the music and when music supplants all religion it’s the crucial piece if the puzzle for the club and this has sadly been missing of late. Functional, droning electronic beats marching with drastic precision lack the soul of House music’s origins and it’s time to rewind, turn back the clock and once again make the dance floor our church.

Let’s take it back to its origins and one of the pre-eminent Disco tracks, that even preceded  proto-House to become one of the most legendary dance floor tracks of all time, “stand on the word.” Now that we know the track has absolutely no connection to Larry Levan, other than he might have played it at some point, this track was the precursor to all the vocal House music that came after it. Originally penned by Phyliss McKoy Joubert, a minister out of Crown Heights, New York the song was originally recorded for a compilation LP of Gospel music. It found its way onto the dance floor when Tony Humphries spread the word through his residency at the legendary New Jersey club Zanzibar. After getting his hands on a couple of copies of the record he would extend the breaks and the the tracks eventually became a Zanzibar anthem. “7:30, 8:00 in the morning, you would have an encore or closing song,” Humphries told RBMA. It was so popular that Humphries would eventually remix the track under the new title the Joubert singers where it is still enshrined today and lives on in infamy as the track started it all.

 

 

As Disco morphed into House these origins would play a fundamental role in the emerging new sound of the 1980’s, coming out of New York and Chicago through selectors like Frankie Knuckles – appropriately referred to today as the godfather of House. Unsurprisingly Knuckles had a similar vision of the club as Humphries in that he believed it was “like church… by the time the preacher gets going, the whole room becomes one”. This analogy to the Sunday reverence might in fact be something embedded in the cultural roots of the early facilitators of this music. People like Knuckles and Larry Levan, predominantly black inner city kids, would have undoubtedly been going to church with their parents from an early age and bare witness to the awesome, spirit-elevating might of a choir or an angelic soulstress, as they were wont to do in the US.

It seems unlikely that these, usually gay black or latino kids would find solace in church music, but that connection is confirmed today through countless books and think pieces about this music. Today it’s something that echoes through the whole legacy of House leading up to the present. Go to Horse meat Disco or the NYC Downlow and House music is still perpetuates this balance between thumping 808 beats, mind-bending 303 surges and a vocals belting out soulful exaltations from up high. Whether it is acting on the fringes at club-concepts or at the height of its popularity, Gospel infused House has remains resolute and it offers a human dimension and an inseparable link to the origins of this music. House music and the clubs from which it sprang was the last sanctuary for the persecuted black and gay young men and women, a place where they could be themselves, completely liberated from the conservative views. The music facilitated this feeling through the sounds of Gospel, not as a church-going music but something that offered an escape from the trials and tribulations of growing up gay in the late seventies, early eighties and even nineties in every-day America.

It’s no surprise that the music reflected a proud and determined optimism of Gospel music rather than a sombre dissatisfaction in sound. Uplifting melodies high-energy tempos and spirit-raising lyrics all coalesced in music with a positive message for the oppressed at its core. “Brother and Sisters one day we will be free” sings Joe Smooth in 1989 on “Promised Land” and that message has echoed through House music ever since. Robin S asking in no uncertain terms  “you gotta show me love” from deep beyond her lungs or Ru Paul inviting you into her “House of Love” conveyed a positive message of hope and perseverance for a disenfranchised youth in the familiar Gospel motifs.

 

 

In his book Trance Formation, the academic Robin Sylvan even suggests that the Rave Culture that followed was not merely a counter-cultural revolution, but rather a “significant religious phenomenon”. And this makes absolute sense… doesn’t it? Music, for as long as it’s existed has had a significant part to play in religion and vice versa. Consider the English Reformation: The music, which had previously been the reserve of a church elite, sung in Latin, started being transcribed to English to put the word of the God into the mouth of every common English- man and woman. Then consider the music of Bach – exclusively written for God, but today lives on in the classical cannon beyond religion.

Music has always had a spiritual dimension, and as we’ve progressed as a society and started doing away with ancient folklore about pre-eminent spirits watching over us like big brother, the spirituality continues to live on in the music… but only if the music reflects that.

As people turn away this “spirituality” in House music they also unwittingly, or in some cases purposefully, dishonour the legacy established by the young gay, black and latino men and women who created this music. The idea of the club as a church, can’t be sustained if the music doesn’t offer that spiritual dimension. At some point during the end of the nineties the vocal became some kind of tawdry production cliche and as artists and DJs abandoned it, a little of the soul of House music left along with it. The dance floor became an isolated experience, unless you went to specific club nights that honoured these roots, usually gay underground club nights like Honey Soundsystem or the aforementioned Horse Meat Disco. Trance-inducing synth-melodies work on occasion, but when all you need is a song to sing along to, something to move the spirit and bond with a stranger, nothing beats a powerful vocal expelling messages of love, unity and spirituality deep from within a soul. House music isn’t just something for your body, but rather something for your mind, body and soul.  

 

*Hear the full gospel at Jæger from the lips of an originator.

An unlikely pair with Kūn

No other European country encourages music quite like Switzerland. It’s embedded in their educational infrastructure. Every student is obliged to take up a musical instrument early in their education and their tuition is accommodated at every level from novice to classically trained musician. “You can skip sports if you make music,” says Cyril Pulver over a telephone call and that echoes through the entire musical landscape in the small central European country.  “Switzerland is the country that has the most musical festivals per capita,” says Koris (real name: Vu Vuong Dinh). “That is a fact,” he says by way of emphasising his point in only the slightest hint of a French accent.

Koris and Cyril are collectively known as Kūn. For the past 4 years they’ve played together as part of the Attitude Nocturn crew with a residency at the renowned Lausanne club, Folklor. Koris and Cyril are of asian descent, but grew up in the western region of Switzerland where they’ve enjoyed a “rave and clubbing scene that was one of the highlights in Europe” throughout the nineties, at least from Koris’ perspective. Even though the “music changed and the people changed, clubbing is still strong” and it’s from this legacy that Kūn came to be. “We’re blessed,” continues Koris because for “the amount of people living here and the lineup we get, Switzerland has a strong scene.”

It’s from this scene that Kūn came to be, but their creation is an unlikely story, with the two halves of the duo coming from two very different generations. “I think it’s a vast mistake, we should not be hanging together at all,” says Cyril. “I think Koris should be spending his Friday nights drinking prosecco with his friends, and I should be spending my friday nights partying with my university friends.”

Koris is Cyril’s senior by a whole generation, but the pair have bridged an unlikely gap through music. Cyril had been “doing music” with his brother, before the the latter had “abandoned” the former for Japan. “He felt bad and he hooked me up with Koris to make music together,” explains Cyril of the unlikely pairing. “We hooked up and decided to give it a go and here we are four years later” continues Koris, finishing the other’s sentence like they do when they occupy the booth together. The reason the pair seem to understand each other is that from Cyril’s perspective he is something of a “classist”, an old soul and the pair find a unique bond exactly through their dissimilarities where Koris believes they compliment each other.

“We come from different musical backgrounds,” explains Koris. Cyril, a classically trained musician had “made music his entire life” and Koris can barely decipher sheet music, but brings an intuition that only experience can bring. Koris has had quite a luminous career as a DJ. Coming of age in the nineties through that thriving Swiss scene, Koris “started djing in 1996” and took it up professionally between 2000-2007 “as a trance DJ.” At the height of his career he was playing 150 gigs a year and there are videos dotted around the Internet of Koris entertaining large audiences from his DJ pulpit in places like San Francisco.

“I have an extensive career as a DJ,” he reiterates and believes “the combination of the classically trained musician” in Cyril “and the more instinctive side of how to approach DJing and make music” from his perspective” make for “very complimentary” attributes in Kūn. “It elevates both of us.”

Koris the sager of the two describes it as such: “If we put ourselves in the shoes of the dancers, they want to discover music, they don’t want instant gratification… That’s what we crave too.”  He feels they are “very blessed” with their residency at Folklor, playing for a crowd on a regular basis that they have this symbiotic bond with through music. “It’s what we are” he says about the Lausanne club that currently stands at the centre of the French-speaking region’s nightlife. In a country where people “spend a lot of money on music” according to Cyril, there’s a healthy scene at Folklor that allows the local residents to play alongside visiting international dignitaries on a weekly basis.

For the moment Cyril and Koris are quite content in being DJs in the scene, but there is long-term plan to add producer to their credits. Their approach in this regard  is “a bit more conservative” according to Cyril. Instead of rushing into something, they are biding their time in an attempt to “develop” their “own thing”. It’s “something that takes a long time,” says Cyril and even though his musical training has plied the group with all the tools necessary to make music, Cyril believes they are “still learning.” While they’ve road tested their tracks in sets according to Koris they “don’t feel ready to publish them just yet.” They don’t want to get in a situation where they “spam the market with tracks.”

Their individual musical traits and experiences echo through their music. Through their first residency at D! Club they favoured a “more straightforward or immediate sound,” says Cyril. It was a result of the sets they played in the vacuous space of the club where they would naturally “make music for big rooms.” Today he believes that they honed their craft more in-line with the sounds of Folklor, where Cyril’s penchant for “classical harmonies” find a more intuitive bond with the purpose of the club floor. ”There is always some kind of harmony that’s a bit more pop, rather than abstract Techno sounds,” he explains of their latent sound.  

For the moment Kūn will remain a DJ duo, a multi-generational, intercontinental, multi-skilled DJ duo, who presents the best of what all these words can offer through their selections. They’ll be arriving in Oslo later this week to showcase their proclivity , sharing the booth with their Norwegian affiliates Det Gode Selskab, which Koris says is “a natural relationship and friendship between people who like music.” It’s their second visit to Norway in as many years and Koris and Cyril are keen to return to propagate that nuanced partnership they have through music.

 

*Kūn play Det Gode Selskab this Sunday.

 

Album of the week: Susumu Yokota – Acid Mt. Fuji

At the beginning of the year, Fact Magazine ran an article about the resurgence of Japanese Ambient music. Albums that had been pressed in limited copies for the Japanese market only  found minimal success outside of their own country, and had largely disappeared into obscurity, was being excavated by a new audience over the internet. While some of these artists followed their work into the mystical vaults of music history, others prevailed and found success in electronic music.

Susumu Yokota was one of the fortunate ones. Touring Europe throughout the ninety nineties while releasing music for prominent dance music labels, he established a productive Tokyo – Frankfurt connection, but while some of his work were readily available, some had found a fate much the same as counterparts like Hiroshi Yoshimura. His second album, Acid Mt. Fuji on Sublime records would follow records like Yoshimura’s “Green,” disappearing almost into obscurity. A CD-re-issue in 2016 came at the perfect time on the crest of a wave of the resurgence of Japanese Ambient music, leading to a newfound interest in music like this.

The Internet and especially Youtube had suddenly brought these mythical sonic documents to a new audience scouring the known digital hemisphere in search of something they hadn’t heard before. A few of these exotic pieces concurrently caught the ear of a few influential people on various labels and as a result some 14 years on we now have the first re-press of “Acid Mt. Fuji”.

Mr. Yokoto sadly passed away in 2015 after a long period of illness, but his music lives on forever incased in that reverential time for electronic music, the ninety nineties. The record returns to the world during a time of Bandcamp and the style of Ambient/New Age music that is currently being proliferated through the website. “Acid Mt. Fuji” slots in there somewhere with a DIY approach to groove boxes and digital synthesisers, but at the same time negates the trend as something that lives outside its own time, both as something from the past, and something that couldn’t be encapsulated in that time either.

Susumu Yokota paints a surreal, abstract landscape in psychedelic hues with Mt. Fuji looming in the distance of the frame. Beads of wafer-thin electronic droplets cling to bio-organic rhythmic structures like a mist hanging over a rainy forest. Pulling back the shroud, simple repetitive structures form the basis of Yokota’s work, which can go from lush, padded ambience to churning percussive movements. Music, like “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” is conjured from some fantastical world where the biodiversity of nature finds some synergy with hyper-modern language of machines.

Echoes of unlikely animal kingdoms, where African elephants and Capuchin monkeys occupy the same ecosphere, pierce the thin exterior of the album’s electronic stratosphere and organic sounds forms some unlikely relationship with stark electronic noise. Melodies offer only wistful encounters with the listener, like they exist without the purpose of being heard, answering that old adage about the tree falling in the woods. While  Moments like “Alphaville” and “Saboten” do offer jolts to the system in jack-hammering four to the floor beats, they only disrupt the languishing atmospheres for a moment before disappearing back into the serene, opaque mist of songs like “Oh my god” and “Tanuki.” This new re-issue enshrines the sounds Susumu Yokota and “Acid Mt. Fuji” for yet another generation and the future, where it will hopefully live on in infamy for centuries to come.

Just Listen with Philipp Boss

“You can go 300 meters” outside your door in Frankfurt and you’ve “met three DJs already” says Frankfurt native, DJ and producer Philipp Boss. Walk further down the street to your local record store, which for Philipp is GOSU, and your met with a whole community of artists and DJs like Philipp. “Every time I go to GOSU I meet a lot of artists,” he says in a broad German accent with a tone of youthful exuberance. “We show each other our music and we support each other” and “this is what I like about Frankfurt.”

Philipp Boss is still young at 24 and the brief glimpse I get of him over a video call, before it crashes, shows a stocky man with the visage of a teenager that belies his actual age by some years. Originally from a “small town next to Frankfurt” he calls Frankfurt AM Main home today, a city with an incredible legacy in electronic music and home to some of the most revered artists and DJs in the world today. Think Gerd Janson, Roman Flüggel, Sven Väth, Cocoon, Running Back and Robert Johnson, all in an area with a population of less than 800 000. The term Techno might even have been coined there by TALLA 2XLC back in the 1980’s, long before Virgin used it to describe a new emerging sound in Detroit and that legacy echoes through the entire scene today.

It’s in that environment that Philipp Boss emerges, as the latest descendent in a long line of artists and producers perpetuating the lineage of electronic music in the city, but ironically, it wouldn’t be drum machines and synthesisers that would first indulge Philipp’s creativity, but rather guitars and improvised music. Philipp first picked up the guitar as an adolescent and by the age of 12 he started his first band. “We played together for seven years,” says Philipp, jamming all manner of music and playing indie concerts around town, with his “greatest inspiration during this time” would be the act of improvisation with his friends.

At 13 he bought his first synthesiser, and trying to incorporate it in the band he “got more curious” about the instrument. Soon he was asking himself questions like “what else can I do with a synthesiser.” His intrigue broadened to drum machines when his dad, a local Jazz musician, bought the device to practise along to. Philipp started incorporating the drum machine with his exploration of the synthesiser in what he calls “mostly experiments” as the rudimentary entry into electronic music that’s every producer’s right to passage today. “This was my beginning with production,” he says with a determined smile.

Those first tentative steps towards a career in electronic music would remain dormant however, as Philipp continued to play in his band through his teens and it would re-emerge again much later as he came of age and started going to clubs. Philipp couldn’t have asked for a better musical education than that which Frankfurt’s clubbing community offered. “The first house party I ever went to Oskar Offermann was playing,” says Philipp in a tone that downplays the significance of hearing a respected DJ like Offerman in your backyard. It would be a epochal event for Philipp, one that would prove pivotal to the career of the budding producer. It would be the first time that Philipp would experience “a DJ with two turntables making the whole room dance” and he found it absolutely “inspiring.”

He visited his first record store, the now defunct Freebase records – previously “an institution in Frankfurt” – and started buying and collecting records. He found a community of DJs and and “cool artists” at Freebase, which would later encourage him to start making music professionally. His entry into electronic music would be largely “inspired by the club culture in Frankfurt,” and through the encouragement of the community he would establish a career as a producer and DJ that went from debut to three EPs and an LP in little less than a year.

“I started making music on my computer,” he says in a matter-of-fact way but it would marred by inconclusive results at first. “I really had a problem finishing tracks,” he says.  He continued to collect and play records, honing his skill and when it got to a point where he believed it was a good enough, he didn’t go the traditional route of trying to find a compatible label to release this music on, but rather go his own way. In the true DIY spirit of this music and its culture, Philipp Boss started his own label, “Einfach Horen” (just listen in German) and by “basically learning by doing,” the label’s first release emerged.  

Calling on that close-knit community, Einfach Horen came into the world through a compilation CD of tracks collected from close friends, artists like Chris Geschwindner. “This is the thing about Frankfurt,” explains Philipp, “we are a very small city with so many good producers and DJs” and it was “only logical” for Philipp to start his own label out of this environment. A vinyl release soon followed the digital release in 2017 and by 2018 Philipp found an artistic stride, releasing two EPs and an LP in close succession, establishing the young artist as a rising future star of the scene and the DJ circuit.

Philipp’s first two solo EPs, “Motor Myths” and “Code North” presented a transient electronic music artist to the world. Over three tracks “Code North” traverses Garage, Electro and House without any reservations and at the core of this is a very simple ideology for Philipp. “The first time I went to the studio, I was like, ‘ok I want to do a Garage track’, because I never did a garage track before,” he says about the origins of “Sahallo”. The title track follows in much the same way as a “heavy electro” track “inspired by Drexciya.” He likes “to explore new ways of making music, new beat structures new harmonies” he says about his eclecticism in the studio. “I don’t like making stuff that bores me” and for him the whole idea of creativity is to push all the “influences I collect during my everyday life into my music.”

And what ties these tracks together? “I really like funky melodies and music that doesn’t take itself too seriously,”explains Philipp. “For me it’s about having a party, not about making super sophisticated future sounds. I really want to make people dance – this is my main motivation.”

On “Motor Myths” which is a little more confined to the House delineation, we find more of those “funky melodies” Philipp talks about, but there’s also a soulful depth that evaporates at the fringes of the funky bass-lines and syncopated hi-hats. “Soul and groove” is an important aspect to Philipp’s music and there’s always a considered effort from the artist “to put some emotion” into his music. “I don’t like functional tracks, It misses something for me.” Philipp’s music is hardly devoid of function either, and it is there if the body is willing to submit to the ear. Melodies drips like cotton candy from Philipp’s percussive arrangements and there is always an element of Funk to the way he puts these pieces together.

It’s something that he carries over to his DJ sets too. “I try to select music that connects with people on an emotional level.” When asked how he would describe his DJ sets in one word  “that word would be party.” He says there is definitely some correlation to his recorded music and his DJ sets, where function plays second fiddle to some kind of human depth, and in as the most elaborate execution of this ideology he released his debut LP, Boss on La Peña back in February this year.

The origins of the LP starts with Philipp booking Robin Scholz for a label night. Scholz introduced Philipp to the head of La Peña Arno Völker (aka Einzelkind) and the pair found a kindred spirit in each other. They hit it off immediately and became friends, and Völker encouraged the younger peer to finish some of those early tracks he had been working on. The album became a “collection of the best tracks” from that period when Philipp started discovering his sound. They were some of the “first club tracks” he had made, Völker “really liked” them and a year later they were released as a LP on La Peña.

Like the EP’s there are really “many sounds” to the record, and it seems Philipp went deeper still for the purpose of the long player format. From the electro funk of  “Angels GF” to the synthetic House of “Palais Orsay” and back again to Bossa Nova grooves of “Vivid Description” the album pieces together a varied kaleidoscopic sound picture of electronic club music with Philipp’s distinctive groovy, soulful touch at the centre of it.

Following the LP, came “Motor Myths” and “Code North” and in the space of a year it has taken Philipp from DIY label owner and bedroom producer to established artist that will see him release more music via “some London labels” in the near future as he rightly stakes his place in the Frankfurt DJ community and club scene.

In his immediate future he is “looking forward to visiting the beautiful city” of Oslo. He’s already seen the video footage of the rotating mixer at Jæger and he’s keen to jump on there to do what he does best… to expedite a party.

 

*Philipp Boss joins Det Gode Selskab this Sunday at Jæger.

No Agenda with Marius Circus

Marius Circus’ rendition of Lindstrøm’s “I feel space” didn’t merely pay a homage to a Norwegian dance floor classic, It proved to be a worthy contemporary fix on of the finest examples of Norwegian electronic music ever created. Marius’ bold analogue bass-line and lysergic interpretation of the original wasn’t merely a cover but a rendition worthy of its own plaudits. “It’s hard to touch the original” says Marius Circus when I ask him about his version over a cup coffee, but he’s “glad people like it.”

In early 2018 Marius (Øvrebø-Engemoen) Circus aired a video on social media of him taking on the “stone cold club classic,” and it proved to be so successful even Linsdstrøm couldn’t deny its appeal. When Hans Peder Lindstrøm “asked to get the stems for his live show” Marius “figured I should do something with this” and with Lindstrøm’s approval Marius released his versions via his newly founded In the Garden imprint, first as a digital release and later this autumn as a 12” vinyl version.

What merely “started as an experiment to recreate Hans-Peter’s complex chord progressions,” something Marius was merely doing for fun, suddenly had a live of its own after the video aired. Marius believes that “the original still stands the test of time,” and his version is only a “different take”, something of “an acid version” of the original, but there are unique merits to his adaptation that go toe to toe with the Lindstrøm classic. It didn’t merely update “I Feel Space”, but between the acid expressions, the sweltering bass and the original enigmatic chord progressions the idea of space resonates through the track more than ever. Shimmering murmurs, purr as they skim the surface across grainy synthesisers like an asteroid skipping its way across the milky way.

Marius recorded it as a live performance and in one take managed to capture it all for the future release. Andrew Weatherall came on board with a jack-booted remix, stomping through Marius’ version with a heavy-footed percussive onslaught. Weatherall’s “Love from outer Space” affiliate, Sean Johnston facilitated the remix, as Marius’ first and only “pick to do this.” Weatherall obliged and did two versions of it with the second exclusively available as a download from the vinyl version only. Together with the Marius Circus interpretation it was a second wind for “I Feel Space” that dusted off the cobwebs without underestimating the power of its origins.

“I Feel Space” came during a prolific time for the DJ turned producer. After a lengthy hiatus where Marius had three kids, moved out to the suburbs and practically stopped DJing, he says that he is now making “probably a hundred tracks a year” and he keeps the best of those for his young “In the Garden” label.

Marius’ career starts back in the early naughties as a DJ, where he was prominent figure in the Oslo scene. He “started buying more records at the turn of the millenium” and then “gradually started Djing” while making “friends with people from the Oslo scene like Prins Thomas and (Todd) Terje.” At some point he realised that  “if I ever was going to be recognised as DJ I had to start making music.” His first effort was a remix for Magnus international followed by an EP in 2011 on Full Pupp which was the one and only EP he released on a label before going on his lengthy hiatus.

As time moved on the “whole making music thing became more important” to Marius, but it would be a slow start for the budding producer, who only started making music in his late twenties and who was “only serious about it some time after that.” He was by his own account “extremely slow in the studio” and it would take some time before he honed his craft to a point where is “a lot faster” today. “My studio process had more or less become a live process at some point,” he says by way of explaining his newfound productivity.

This new era of creativity it became paramount to the creation of “In the Garden” to “have some sort of outlet for my own music that have complete control over” explains Marius. “Tired of waiting for other people’s agendas,” Marius brought the label into the world as an exclusive vehicle for his releases. Launched in 2016 officially, “In the Garde”n sports six releases today, with a seventh primed for later this December. “Polaris” originally released digitally earlier this year, will get a vinyl release with an Ewan Pearson remix in addition.

“Polaris” features a synthesised bass line that falls on the ear like silk, while electronic textures create a wispy firmament, gently enveloping the foundation of the track. With a steady 4 to the floor beat, it’s a track born from the dance floor, but easily lives beyond its functional design. Like the intrepid Norwegian space cadets that came before him Marius Circus looks to the stars for his inspiration with space-aged synths from vintage catalogues and Disco rhythms informing his work.

It remains grounded however through “In the Garden”, which he claims is “a lot of work,” even if it’s solely for Marius’ music, but it allows him the freedom to be subjective in his own way.  “At least it’s my stuff and it’s stuff I like,” he says, “there aren’t any agendas here.“ He relies on an immediacy to judge his own music, which also part of the reason he is working a lot faster in the studio today. “It doesn’t really bring anything good to work on the same piece of music for months and months,” he suggests. “You can’t objectively judge it because you heard it a thousand times before.“

He might still find it “hard to judge what other people are going to enjoy,” but having the outlet for his music is possibly more honest than posturing to a trend or other people’s tastes for Marius. “I’m in a position where I don’t need this to make money,“ says Marius which suggests that that the music like “Polaris” and “I Feel Space”, the stuff that makes it onto the label has no hidden agenda. In the Garden is a very personal label and one can sense that from the music. There’s an intimacy to the records that feel like you’re right there in the garden with Marius as he plays and in many ways you are when he’s doing his studio streaming sessions.

Although he still DJs on the rare occasion, Marius reflects that he’s “not too interested” in that aspect of electronic music any longer. He prefers playing live today the where the “risk is higher” and because “going out on limb is fun.” From his pedestal of drum machines, synthesisers and sequencers Marius re-imagines the recorded material for the “slimmed-down” live version as well as playing previously unreleased tracks.

He’ll often spend his early mornings, getting up at 5am to craft new tracks before heading off to work where his 9-5 is occupied working with notable Norwegian artists like Lindstrøm at Gram Art. As we sip at the last of our coffees I wonder if that has any affect on his creativity, working with these established artists day in and day out. He reflects for a short moment but dismisses it outright, what he does as Marius Circus lives on in its own, a one-man show all onto himself.

 

*Marius Circus will play Badabing this Saturday with Vinny Villbass and you can check out more of his music here.

Ni kjappe med Zweizz

Vi tok en prat med mannen bak Zweizz. Sist gang han tok over scenen i kjellern på Jaeger under klubb Øya, så skapte det buzz innen samtidsmusikk klikken i byen og vi hadde fått en nytenning av denne  artisten bevæpned med en “Vuvuzela.” Zweizz spiller en bråkete og larmende type ulyd som lages ved hjelp av hovedsakelig elektroniske duppeditter. Bak navnet Zweizz finner vi Svein Egil Hatlevik, som har bakgrunn fra black metal-band som Dødheimsgard, Fleurety og Umoral.

Hvorfor heter prosjektet ditt Zweizz? Hva er opprinnelsen til det navnet?

Det er tatt fra et spøkelse om hjemsøker området Kåterudmåsan i Enebakk kommune. Skrivemåten er omdiskutert, siden spøkelser ikke alltid kommuniserer skriftlig (jeg kjenner altså ikke til den egentlig korrekte stavemåten). Så jeg tok meg friheten til å bruke hele tre stykk “z” for å stave dette navnet. Jeg tenkte som så at med en så urimelig stavemåte ville jeg kunne ha navnet i fred som Google-søketerm og så videre. Men slik gikk det ikke, så det er en fyr i Indonesia som tok brukernavnet “Zweizz” på Instagram før meg. Så det er kanskje mulig at jeg burde legge til flere z-er på lengre sikt.

Kan du kort beskrive musikkprosessen?

Ja, nei, dette er jo mye improvisasjon, så det er kanskje rimelig å svare at jeg skrur på strømmen og setter i gang. Men det er også en del mentale forberedelser, noen ganger er det en del anger etterpå. Sånn overordnet sett handler det en del om å rette oppmerksomheten mot vibrasjoner som en grunnleggende forutsetning for all lyd og musikk.

Ren energi er det jeg husker fra sist gang. Litt sånn Iggy & Stooges energi. Hva er det mest intressante response du fått ifra din performance?

Har vært gjennom både buing, latter, applaus og at folk har forlatt lokalet. Sliter å komme på noe som stikker seg ut som det mest interessante. Om det er noen som misliker det jeg gjør, så tror jeg de holder det mye for seg selv. En gang er jeg blitt spurt om jeg har en Pornhub-konto, men det har jeg jo ikke – heldigvis eller dessverre.

Hvordan takler du ett stort lydsystem som Jaeger der folk får en fysisk relasjon til det du gjør på scenen?

Den fysiske reaksjonen er mye av poenget, så det er vanskeligere å håndtere et mindre lydsystem. Da har man færre virkemidler å spille på. Av hensyn til folkehelsa er det nok lurt å si hver gang man har sjansen at det er anbefalt med ørepropper.

Sist gang du spilte på Jaeger tok du med mange interessante blås og perkussive instrument? Blir det noe annerledes denne gang?

Har ikke helt bestemt meg for hva jeg skal gjøre og hvordan. Jeg kan i hvert fall garantere vuvuzela.

Hvilke forbilder har du innen elektronisk musikk?

Det er ganske mange! Det kan være Aphex Twin, Igorrr eller Venetian Snares, for eksempel, men det kan også være Whitehouse eller Femnesz eller for den saks skyld Arne Nordheim eller Edvard Artemiev. Det spørs om det er mulig å kjenne igjen noe av dette i en opptreden jeg gjør, men heldigvis kan man ha forbilder uten å leve opp til noe av det de representerer.

Hvordan stemmer du ditt instrument er det noe forskjell på hva for mikrofoner du bruker er det noe spesielle teknikker fra for eksempel å spille et annet perkussive instrument?

Om man skal ha med seg en dass på scenen, er det en stor fordel at den er grundig rengjort. Kvalifiserer det til stemming? Ellers er nok det viktigste å gjøre mest mulig ut av de virkemidlene man har til rådighet, og akkurat den tankegangen har nok overskygget hvordan jeg tenker om hva slags utstyr som er det best egnede. Jeg synes ofte det er morsommere å ikke ha kontroll over utstyret enn det er å ha en presis forståelse av hva man holder på med.

Hvordan kan man få høre på din musikk når man ikke kan oppleve det live? Har du noen soundcloud eller sted man får kjøpt musikken din?

Jeg har endt opp med å praktisere et skarpt skille mellom det jeg gjør under opptredener og det jeg lager av innspilt materiale. Det jeg har laget av musikk som er gitt ut på plate høres derfor ganske annerledes ut enn det som skjer i konsertsammenheng. Når det er sagt, vil jeg gjerne anbefale et album jeg lagde med en som het Joey Hopkins. Han døde dessverre i 2008, så det blir ikke noe mer av dette samarbeidet. Fans av Oslo-legenden Filip Roshauw vil også kunne høre en del gitar- og basspill fra ham på denne plata.

Ni kjappe med Silje Huleboer

Hva Silje Huleboer har med seg i sekken på Sprekken kommer vi kjappt til å finne ut. Vi sendte over ni kjappe spørsmål til denne musikalske formskifter.

Vi tok en prat med Silje Huleboer innfor konserten på Den Gyldne Sprekk 4.desember.

Hvordan går det?

Hei. Det går bra. Har akkurat hatt eksamen i grunnleggende elektrofag. Det gikk ikke så bra, men tror ikke jeg stryker.

Så hyggelig at du kommer å gjør en konsert på Jaeger.

Det syns jeg og!

Du har gjort spilt alt ifra blackmetal noisekonserter til folkmusikkkonserter… Hvordan vil du beskrive det du skal fremføre på Jaeger på Sprekken?

Jeg har vel aldri spilt hverken black metal eller folkemusikkkonserter. Men jeg har varmet opp for Atilla og soloprosjektet hans som baserer seg på loopet vokal. Det gjør mitt soloprosjekt og. Så det var vel i grunnen linken der. Da spilte jeg sammen med Oslos koseligste støymusiker Sten Ove Toft som tilførte ytterligere elementer av støy i tillegg til de jeg lager selv.

Påvirkningen av folkemusikk kommer fra hjembygda. Jeg har egentlig aldri spilt/sunget en konsert med folkemusikk i tradisjonell forstand, men har brukt stev og folketoner som utgangspunkt for noen av arbeidene. Men jeg kveder en del på nach og i bryllup.

Jeg har ikke helt bestemt meg for hva jeg skal gjøre i Sprekken enda. Jeg har et påbegynt popsangerinne-prosjekt hvor jeg tar utgangspunkt i en liten del av en låt, et refreng kanskje, og lager en vokal loop over det i lavere tempo. Så fletter jeg inn fraseringer og litt deilig ad-libing og bygger det opp til et metningspunkt som kanskje går over i støy. Det er et slags hyllestprosjekt til mine favoritt popsangerinner som Mariah Carey, Whitney, Brandy med flere.

Hvem kommer å joine deg denne aften?

Sten Ove Toft blir med meg denne kvelden og det blir tredje gangen vi spiller sammen. Han er støyartist og har spilt i band som bl.a. Ryfylke og Waffelpung samt spilt med etablerte band som ALTAAR, Serena-Maneesh, The Low Frequency In Stereo og The Megaphonic Thrift. Live kan Sten Ove Toft tilby et lydinferno uten sidestykke. Så han blir med meg å glitcher litt i sprekken.

Anthony Barrat blir også med meg. Han har bygget noen pedaler som jeg bruker og så er han flink med det visuelle. Han skal ordne projiseringer av mine gamle filmarbeider og kanskje noe fra sitt eget materiale. Han laget for eksempel den siste videoen til Moon Relay:

Hvilke er dine influenser for dette nye prosjektet? Hvilke forbilder har du innen elektronisk musikk? Tar dere en pause ifra prosjektet som du hadde med Ole?

Selve soloprosjektet er jo ikke så veldig nytt. Har holdt på så smått siden 2013. Men jeg kan jo trekke frem de mest åpenbare musikalske infuenserene og referansene i forhold til prosjektet. Den artisten som fikk meg til å begynne med looping og disse vokale lydlandskapene, eller hva men enn skal kalle det, var Noveller. Hun er en amerikansk støy/alternativ musiker med gitar som instrument. Hun gjør mye av det samme som meg, bare med gitar. Eller riktigere sagt, jeg gjør mye av det samme som henne, bare med vokal. William Basinski er nærliggende å trekke frem, Oneothrix Point Never sitt prosjekt Memory Vague og vokalt kan jeg trekke frem Elisabeth Fraser, Trish….. og Whitney, Brandy og MIMI da :)

Jeg og Ole tar ikke pause. Vi har en plate klar som kommer ut på nyåret. Vi skal spille en del konserter i desember og vi er i gang med enda en plate! Mye å glede seg til.

Liker du blackmetal eller popmusikk publikum bedre?

De er jo fine gjenger begge to. Opplever begge typer publikum som lyttende og interesserte.

Når kommer det ut noe opptak i fra dette spennende prosjektet?

Jeg har hatt en innspillingsplan for sologreiene mine lenge. Men jeg utsetter det lett fordi jeg må gå for egen maskin og noen ganger er det litt vanskelig å prioritere eget prosjekt. Og så har jeg begynt på skole. Men det skal komme noe i 2018. Det blir en fullengder med to ganger 20 min i første omgang.

Hvordan kan man få høre på din musikk når man ikke kan oppleve det live? Har du noen soundcloud eller sted man får kjøpt den nye musikken?

Jeg har en soundcloud, men det er egentlig ganske skissebaserte ting. Men ganske fint å høre på alikevel. Akkurat det som ligger der er støyfritt :)

https://soundcloud.com/siljehogevold

 

Album of the week: Sun RA – Disco 3000

“We might have a gig on Mars one day,” Sun Ra told Michael Ray, “so you got to be swinging on your horn, because they don’t party like earthlings.” It was during the recording session for “Disco 3000” in Rome in 1978 that would completely change the way Ray approached his instrument, like someone had “erased your main frame and reboot your drive” according to the trumpet player and vocalist on the LP that was re-issued this year via Art Yard records recently.

That’s how you should approach Sun Ra’s music and this album, like it’s from Mars.  There’s no linear entry into “Disco 3000,” a jam session turned album and right from the opening you’re dropped into the centre of a musical tornado with portholes to multiple dimensions… folks, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Musical expressions like thought bubbles crop up and then dissipate in a miasma of sounds that push and pull the listener into every which direction.

A drum kit tumbling down the stair case; organ and keys quivering under the pressure of Sun Ra’s experienced fingers; and horns and vocals cropping up like interrupted communiqué from distant planets ebb and flow through recorded Jam session. It’s hardly easy-listening, as atonal musical vignettes gather and disperse around incalculable time signatures and transient rhythms.

Without the famous Arkestra,  John Gilmore, Lauqman Ali, and the aforementioned Michael Ray, join Sun Ra on his inter-dimensional musical journey; an impromptu jam session living beyond its time and place forever sealed in wax. There’s a primal urgency that surges through the record that still echoes through the speakers some forty years on. It’s music that was made way ahead of its time and even in ’78 already Sun Ra was coaxing otherworldly sounds from synthesisers, and sequencers that at times like “Dance of the Cosmo-Aliens” seem more appropriate for Drexciya era Techno than 70’s fusion Jazz.

There are elements of Sun Ra’s other works too, most notably his film “Space is the place”, which according to the liner notes served as some inspiration for the musicians involved and ends in an interesting story with Sun Ra in a US customs office with a bundle of pornographic material under his arm.

Everything about Sun Ra is steeped in mystery and myth and this record just adds to the allure. Mere mortals like us are not really equipped to make much sense of Sun Ra’s music and ideologies, but there’s an undeniable magnetism  that even after the man has gone still lives on in his music. All you have to do is sit back and listen, and if you listen carefully, you might just pick up whatever the Jazz icon is transmitting from whichever dimension he occupies today.

Philipp Boss delivers a DJ profile mix for DGS

Before heading out to Oslo to play Det Gode Selskab next Sunday,Philipp Boss created a mix for the collective’s DJ profile mix series.

Philipp Boss is a 24 years old DJ, music producer, sound artist and founder of the label Einfach Hören [ˈaɪ̯nfax ˈhøːrən] (german for “just listen”). He is part of a new generation of Frankfurt/Offenbach Producers and DJs centered around the newly established GOSU record store. Growing up in a suburb of Frankfurt am Main during the late 90ies, Boss and his friends founded a band, spending a lot of time together everyday jamming blues, funk, soul, reggae and rocknroll music in their small rehearsal room.

In the late 00s Boss started digging vinyl and diving more into electronic music. With the age of majority, Frankfurt’s nightlife and its clubs became accessible. The infamous Robert Johnson Club as a constant source of inspiration in mind, Boss started producing electronic music and soon developed his own remarkable style by blending various genres. The greatest motif in his productions is always groove and rhythm, rather than big build-ups and massive drops.

With 12” releases on Pager Records, Rawax Motorcity, a double-album on La Peña Records and appearances on his own Label Einfach Hören, Boss constantly shapes his interpretation

*You can find out more about the event here.

Download Future Prophecies – Black Dragon (Engage remix)

In 2005 the Norwegian drum&bass act Future Prophecies released their seminal album “Warlords Rising” which would turn out to be one of the most influential releases in dnb history. The duo made a name for themselves with a brutal and fierce yet melodic approach to the genre, characterized by angry breakbeats, buzzing synths and menacing bass-lines.
They haven’t performed together for over a decade but during “Romjulsfestivalen 2018” on
the 30th of Dec they will officially reunite at Jæger for what is set to be one of the biggest dnb events in Norwegian history. Tony Anthem and Richard Animashaun will be joined by dnb and jungle royalty Teebee and Psychofreud 
for a massive all-star lineup the likes of which has never been seen on the Norwegian scene.
To celebrate this unique event Dub Monkey Records and Jæger are teaming up to give away a previously unreleased track by Future Prophecies. You can get the download here.

“Black Dragon” is a juggernaut from the debut album and we are happy to present this remix made by St. Petersburg resident neurofunk-legend Engage (Dmitry Nekrasov) (Mainframe Recs, Icarus Audio, Ammunition Recs). We sat down with the  man himself to ask some questions and get some answers.

Hi Dima and thanks for taking the time. What are your earliest memories of Future Prophecies?

Hi! Thanks for having me here. My first memories are from tunes on the radio of course but one of the biggestinspirations for me as a future dnb producer was seeing them live at The World Of Drum’n’Bass 2006 in St.Petersburg. “Miniamba” and “Dreadlock” with that electronic flute – ugh! That was truly amazing performance!
 
What kind of relationship do you have with the original track?
I heard the original track at a party with Kemal here in St. Petersburg back in the day and was in love from the first second of the tune because of this dark atmosphere and that scary girl’s voice. I can remember those goosebumps.
How was the process of remixing it?
For me it’s interesting to start with making pretty similar samples from scratch. With that you can learn something new and reach back through the years to get in touch with that old beloved sound. It started with meeting Kalle from Dub Monkey at a party in St. Petersburg where I said that it might be fantastic to remix Black Dragon some time. After that it wasn’t a question anymore, I got the samples and that’s it. To be honest I didn’t use a lot of them because as I said previously I like to re-create.
Why do you think that FP have such a special place in Russia?
When you are talking about Russia you can say that the biggest love Russians have is for the hardest sub-genres of dnb. That’s why Future Prophecies are so popular over here.
Any local talent that you want to big up?
Lots of respect to my old dnb friends – DJ Bes and his project Gydra, Teddy Killerz, Receptor and other guys from our Neuropunk crew.
Find out more about Engage here.
* Text by Karl Magnus Blindheim

Limitation is Liberation with Bendik Baksaas

*Photo by Signe Fuglesteg Luksengard

Bendik Baksaas + Frederik Høyer are about to embark on a “new phase” of their career together, Bendik told me over a private message. It’s been two years on since they released “Grønland Kaller”, an LP that framed Fredrik Høyer’s lyrical arias in Bendik Baksaas musical balladry coaxing lifeless machines into sentience through improvisation.

The album, which started out as a vocalist plus accompaniment arrangement turned musical group when they found an artistic bridge across their respective disciplines. Their studio collaboration turned performance and while they continued to pursue their solo creative endeavours they began finding an individual voice as an artistic duo.

Fredrik Høyer is a poet whose treatment of words take on a lyrical nature as he combines it with elements of improvisation, hip hop and literature. Bendik Baksaas and Høyer first started working together on a remix LP of Høyer’s book and album “Grønlandssūtraen” and the collaboration turned into its own fully fledged project as the pair started performing,and working on new original material together.

They’ve returned recently to the recorded format in “Ode til alt Ute”, the first single from an impressive forthcoming “maximalist double LP” featuring 26 tracks, 9 poets and 222 minutes of music. This is the next phase for Bendik Baksaas + Frederik Høyer, directing the sound of the group towards the impulses of the dance floor.

They’ve followed it last week with the double single “Fortellinga / Fake blodmåner og England”; two tracks that play on the dichotomy of the dancefloor going from the intense narrative of a night out through the language of minimal Techno before dissipating into serene ambience of “Fake blodmåner og England.” These are the latest pieces to make it out from the forthcoming LP, which is currently in the process of being mixed by Joar Renolen (formerly Foreground Set).

“Without him I would be doomed,” says Bendik Baksaas “having the scope of work in mind.“ Bendik Baksaas + Frederik Høyer will be presenting some of these new pieces as well as some unheard material at LYD with Olle Abstract this coming Saturday and even with so much on his plate, he still managed to make some time for us for a Q&A session.

Bendik Baksaas’ career gestated in the world of improvised Jazz, but he quickly moved on to electronic music genres like House, Techno and Ambient, incorporating elements of improvisation in his music. He finds an organic pulse within the stark rhythms of machines channeling his musical experiences through music computers.

When I contact Bendik, he’s just performed with Jo David in an ambient concert for Monument, that went from abstract sounds to an imposing 4/4 kick. Bendik’s musical history, his work with Fredrik and his live performances are intriguing, bordering on something of an enigma and in the ensuing Q&A he grants us unique access into his creative processes as a solo artist and with Fredrik.

*Bendik Baksaas + Fredrik Høyer plays LYD with Olle Abstract.

In your message, you told me that your closing out a chapter of your collaboration together, and embarking on a new one as Bendik Baksaas + Fredrik Høyer. Can you tell me what this new chapter is all about?

The new chapter is about bringing spoken word to the dancefloor. I’ve noticed how vocal samples in club tracks have a very distinct appeal. Our ears are fine tuned to the frequencies of the human voice. In a musical context in a club this usually goes into the extreme in both ends. The sudden appearance of a voice will either take the emotion and intensity to the next level, or (in many cases) it kills the set by demystifying everything that was sexy about the instrumental soundscape.

30 months ago, when I first heard the sound of Fredriks voice, his attitude and his deeply sincere lyrics, I started dreaming about being on a dark dancefloor, inducing myself in his stories and the melody of his voice, while always having a steady techno groove to lean on. An anchor in every beat of the bass drum, while being led through doors to the worlds that emerge in his poems.

And that’s the new chapter. Inviting the club crowd to a dance of body and soul.

So the people that know you for your last album, Grønland kaller, what can they expect that’s different from that album going into the future?

Grønland kaller was my remix album of Fredriks book and album called Grønlandssūtraen. So he already recorded all the poems before I started making the music. It was a fun process and turned out great in my opinion, but now we work tight as a team and our output is a dialogue, rather than my take on his poems.

There’s an album primed for 2019, “Til Alt Ute” with 26 tracks and 9 poets on there. What else do we need to know about the album?

It will be the grandest masterpiece in the history of Norwegian music-literature. I believe that for all future it will be a point of reference to anyone who’s interested in how it was to be a young person in Norway in the years 2017 – 2019. That’s the reason for the large amount of guest poets. Through idiolects, sociolects and dialects we represent the reality as we live it. Right here, right now. With attention to detail and appreciation of the ephemeral.

The first single “Ode til alt Ute” suggests that you might be moving towards a more dance floor orientated sound and you just confirmed that in the first question. But is that the case for the rest of the LP too?

Yes. We are finishing up the album these days and it will clock in around 222 minutes. We describe saturday night, from the “plastic bag hour”, where you see hundreds of people in the streets running around with their beer in plastic bags that they just managed to buy before six, to the stories at the vorspiel, the intensity of the dancefloor and the big speakers, to the events at the nachspiel and the doglike retreat home in the morning.

Musically I accompany the poems with either techno/minimal house grooves OR what we call “rhythmic ambient”. In rhythmic ambient I use short samples of traditional instruments and field recordings arranged in a manner of techno. Short repetitions, light footed beat, modal harmony, absence of melody. The B-side of our new single is a good example. It’s called Fake blodmåner og England. The track is strictly built up of samples from folk musician Helga Myhr playing hardanger fiddle.

And the next single from the album, “Fortellinga” just came out. What is “the story” (pun intended) behind that track?

The character in the story tells the tale of how he was down and out after a hard break-up. He has some financial problems due to his gambling habit and he aims to stay at home to watch tennis and football games saturday night. An unlikely goal by West Ham at overtime sends his future month salary down the drain and at the same moment a friend shows up at his door with a weed vape. Reluctantly he joins his friend to the club, while dancing they start vaping at the floor and suddenly life starts to feel good again. But that’s until the whole team from work shows up at the same club, he’s tripping on the small talks and without good judgement his observing that everyone from work is trying out his vape, in the belief it’s nicotine with taste. As you can imagine, a lot of things happen further following this misunderstanding.

It’s all about the precise observations of the moment, the phrasing and timing of Fredrik’s depictions, the distraction as an essence of human nature. The poem sits well with the music, because I composed the track first, and Fredrik used every turn and build of my arrangement as a formula of the rhythm and structure of the poem. The track is in house tempo with a a lot of melodic elements. I rarely do that now anymore, but it really works well. Especially after our wizard Joar Renolen put his warm mixing hands on the entire production.

Your musical roots run very deep within the Jazz scene and going through your discography, you’ve touched on various styles, genres and sounds throughout your career. How do you think your music has evolved to this point today?

Love of improvisation is with me still. I make music by improvising hour long jams on the Octatrack sampler in combination with other machines. I cut out small parts that moves me and let them find their context. I first create music, then find out on what record or in which musical collaboration it can fit in.

A turning point in my life was around three years ago when minimal house suddenly was all around me. The realization that fewer musical elements means bigger impact per element blew my mind at the time, and is a cornerstone in my way of listening and enjoying music now. This goes for club music and ambient and acoustic music. My life mantra is limitation is liberation.

Last year I stumbled upon the old traditional music of Hallingdal, which inspires me in my creation of dance music as well as ambient. My last album Seine sviv (Jazzland) is a testament to that. The similarities between techno and norwegian folk music is many. The grooves go in 2 or 3. The music is loop based. The human touch and personal style is valued. The harmony is modal, the melodies use microtonality. The music is made for having a function, to make people dance or fall asleep peacefully.

My music evolved to this point because of other people’s music I heard and loved. I am inspired by the pure and characteristic techno of +plattform. I am inspired by the elegant sound design and emotional intensity of ambient producers Tortusa and Joar Renolen.

 

When and how did you and Fredrik meet and what made you want to start working together?

We met at his release gig for Grønlandssūtraen in august ‘16. As he remembers it I was saying something like “Why aren’t we in the studio working together right now?” I was artistically in love with him after hearing his poem Kampen park at a nachspiel earlier in the summer. The best books are the books that read you, is a saying, and the precision of how that poem described my thoughts and life was stunning.

We hooked up in my studio at Påfuglen (thoughts and prayers), and immediately felt connected. We’ve been working together ever since, doing a lot of gigs and traveling together.

What were some of the ideas that informed your work together?

In that first meeting in my studio the idea of a club record with poems on beat was born. It’s not rap, it’s not singing or vocal samples either. It’s spoken word, poems for regular people, and the music is there to bring you up on your feet with your head high.

How do you and Fredrik work together through the creative process and how much input do you have on each other’s role within the group?

We are both confident in our own field, so our collaboration is much about defining the context of our work. We are both playful in our practice, an idea is never bad before it has gotten a chance. Sometimes I make a track and Fredrik writes a poem to fit with it, and sometimes it’s the opposite way. We send music and poems between each other all the time, our process is fluid and light, I trust the process and I trust his esthetic taste. Bendik Baksaas + Fredrik Høyer is a band. I grew up playing in heavy metal bands in Horten. The brotherhood and united force from the teen years is important to how I live my life as a musician today.

I recently saw you perform at the monument evening last week with Jo David. It quickly went from ambient to hard Techno. How will that differ when you’re playing with Fredrik on Saturday?

The gig with Jo David was completely improvised. It’s fun because it is risky and it makes me feel alive. The beauty of the moment is celebrated whenever something I enjoy happens. Here and now.

Fredrik and I also improvise in our sets, but on Jæger we want to just do a parade of our favourite club tracks. We will start the set with a remixed version of Ode til alt ute and build upwards from there. On a gig like that I need to make it playful and still be able to make fast changes and go to safe cues that we both agree on. I will bring my sampler, but will mainly use three cdjs plus delay and reverb machines to have a creative and playful way of performing in a classic DJ manner.

The Cut with Filter Musikk

Just outside of Filter Musikk lies a barren end of Skippergata currently under construction. Turning a corner at Jernbanetorget, rubble and noise greet the pedestrian as if s/he has just passed through the gates of Mordor and stared directly into the eye of Sauron. A treacherous path lies ahead, and we have to navigate debree, machinery and a mote (over a temporary plywood drawbridge) to get to our desired destination. We persevere because on the other end of this journey lies a ring of resin that the DJ still covets more than anything else in the world.

Passing through the glass doors of Roland Lifjell’s sanctuary the vacuous noise of the outside world falls away into an euphonic berceuse, cloaking the vinyl enthusiast from the harsh realities of the human world as we slip into a warm subconscious slumber. Some have had similar experiences at the brink of any icy death, but for the music enthusiast it’s a tangible escapism.

A familiar mixture of electronic sounds and the stale aroma of cardboard boxes greets you as step across the threshold as Roland welcomes you in with a cup of instant coffee and a grin like cheshire cat from his pulpit of synthesisers and records.

Roland Lifjell and Filter Musikk is an institution in Oslo and Norway and one of the few remaining places in the world that specifically facilitates the DJ and his/her needs. Yes, there are other record stores and other DJ equipment stores, but few are so passionate about the craft than Roland Lifjell and Filter Musikk and at the heart of its passion lies the deep oily veneer of freshly pressed vinyl, a kind of black that sucks you in and spits you out on the other side… naked.

Every week (or when the mood strikes Roland) he unpacks a new shipment of records to feed into the ever-expanding collection and gives us a first glimpse over his shoulder, from which we compile a list of favourites we call the Cut with Filter Musikk.

 

Hell – I Want U (Remixes #2) (International Deejay Gigolo) 12″ Limited Edition

It’s the track that keeps on giving. I want U was released two years ago now and this marks the second set of remixes of the track, which also includes a second Hacker remix of the original. This is a limited edition however with versions in pink and black vinyl and finds DJ Hell in a provocative mood – Just look at that cover.

Darren Emerson provides a sultry, oozing version of the original with a low slung kick-bass arrangement that glares at you from the darkest caverns of a dark room like a mysterious  lothario waiting to pounce on the next conquest. It stays fairly true to the original, but somehow Emerson has managed to sexualise it even more. Taking the mustachioed original, and stripping it bare to nothing but a harness and jockstrap.

The Hacker has some weird obsession with this track, and jumps on the remix for a second time in as many years. A tougher body workout ensues with a monstrous kick looming in the foreground with the Hacker stripping back even more of the original to find that functional, primal crux of the track. Along with the Darren Emerson remix this release simply oozes sex.

 

Yuri Urano – Autline (Central Processing Unit) 12″

The central processing label is to this decade what Warp was to the nineties. Chris Smith and the CPU crew have an instinctive feel for the avant garde in electronic music with a considered aesthetic and theme running through their releases. Always introducing new artists through the label, while upholding the futurist principles of electronic music, a CPU record is always a highlight amongst new releases.

This latest release features Japanese newcomer, Yuri Urano. Hailing from Osaka, she’s made a formidable impression on the Japanese Techno scene in a very short time, performing with Ryoji Ikeda, starting her own label, and releasing a fair few records as Yullippe. On this release she favours her new eponymous alias for music that finds an empathetic bond with the CPU sonic aesthetic.

A more progressive dance floor sound than her Yullippe alias, Autline is a tough, beat-driven record, through which enigmatic sound design and functional rhythm structures create intense sweeping technoid dioramas in sound. There’s an unstereotypical industrial aspect to tracks like “Pec” and “Massio” that sounds like turmoil and disillusionment, but is in a controlled extended outburst in sound.

The dub-infused “Knock” and orally-enhanced “Autline” bridge the gap between this and Urano’s Yuliipe alias, but the EP gnarls in a demonic sneer at you from the darker corners of the contemporary dance floor.

 

The Secret Seapony – Secret Seapony EP (Ullis Tapes) 12″  

The mysterious Norwegian record label, Ullis Tapes has long been a presence in the shelves of Filter Musikk. Dotting the House section from time to time, it’s a fleeting presence that always seems to disappear before it gets truly settled. A DIY project from the music to the website – just marvel at that basic HTML simplicity – Ullis Tapes follows in the footsteps of the those that have come before them, the likes of Sex Tags Mania and Full Pupp, with a breathy take on the electronic sounds of the dance floor from House to Dub.

The Secret Seapony EP offers a deep House take on this model with synthesisers and keys landing on galloping 808 kicks like echoes from space. Uptempo House rhythms are veiled under feathery layers of pads that only separate for moment to let rumbling bass movements out from under the light fog. The title track sets a tone that modulates through the release in a similar mood.

 

Lone – Ambivert Tools Volume Four (R&S) 12″

After being in the news recently for being blatantly ripped off by the Black Eyed Peas, Lone is back on R&S with the follow up to his Ambivert series. The UK producer gives us a little bit of everything on Ambivert Tools Volume Four moving from the luxurious break-beats of “Pulsar,” to the bouncing electro of “Odeo 808” and the exotic House of “Blue Moon Tree”.

Lone’s luscious key and synth arrangements, the very same Will I Am found to good to resist, form the basis of this incredible artist’s work. Lone is able to add an accessibility through melody and harmony in the dance music genres that allude most producer-DJ artists. Charming melodic pieces trail along stuttering beats, as Lone pieces together fully formed compositions from elements of UK bass genres and House music to create his signature sound.

The tracks all go through various phases and everybody will have their own personal favourite as discogs reveals, but the artistic charisma that ebbs through the entire record has a magnetic inescapable allure regardless of musical taste. Will I Am would be so lucky to even get close to the artistic talent behind Lone and Ambivert Tools Volume Four.

 

Ascion – Your Finest Nightmare (OAKS) 12″

Drama, it’s something that often alludes Techno-genre today, but it’s possibly the most vital ingredient. Artists will favour immediacy over drama, and the results are static pieces that border on the banal. A big kick thundering along at 130-plus BPM is little more than the anodyne drone for the insipid march through the doldrums of life. It needs variation colour and a sense of progression to encourage a dance floor; it needs drama. 

Ascion’s latest EP on OAKS, “Your finest nightmare” delivers this in droves, and it’s not just about the titles. “Vicious as Acid” doesn’t introduce the lysergic buzz of a 303 seizure until half way through and even at the steady pace of the determined 4/4 kick, there’s a distinct flow of progression precisely orchestrated through the defiant stomp of Techno foundation.

There’s a sense of intrigue through the melodic progression tethered to the rhythm section, hanging on by a mere thread as tracks pulse along and unimaginable speeds. The stoic synthesised loops remain fairly consistent, but they seem to float like a question mark hanging in the air, imbibing the record with a sense of mystery. It slightly subdues the toughness of the underlying foundation of each track and “Your Finest Nightmare”

Ni kjappe med Alwanzatar

Alwanzatar er et enmanns party-orkester for utenomjordiske kulturkvelder, huleraves og innvielser av romskip. Musikken lages i hjemmestudioet Holy Space! på Lindeberg i Oslo, på gamle båndopptagere og et stort antall analoge og digitale synther. På konsert spiller eneste medlem Krizla fløyte, synthesizere, sequencere, trommemaskiner og loopere, mikset på stedet gjennom tung båndekko og effekter. Musikken er inspirert av magick, meditasjon, acid house, dub og krautrock. Siden starten i 2012, har Alwanzatar gitt ut en håndfull kassetter og spilt konserter over hele Norge. Debutalbumet “Heliotropiske Reiser” ble gitt ut i 2017 på Apollon Records, til undring og begeistring fra mange kritikere. Det ble fulgt opp i oktober 2018 med albumet “Fangarmer Gjennom Tid og Rom”.

Vi tok en prat med Alwanzatar innfor konserten på Den Gyldne Sprekk 4.desember.

Tredje gangen på Sprekken og Jaeger det må feires! Hva skal du gjøre denne gangen?

Nå tar jeg space-elementet fra Spectral Haze og okkultismen fra Tusmørke så langt ut jeg kan! Det blir en sinnsyk rigg av synther og trommemaskiner, kabler overalt og blinkende lys. Livesettet mitt er som å se under panseret på et dårlig vedlikeholdt romskip, sammen med en ritualmagiker/psykedelisk mekaniker som prøver å fikse det ved hjelp av fløytespill.

Du er kjent som ene i Momrakatakk. Hvor lenge har du hatt dette prosjektet?

Alwanzatar har holdt på seriøst siden 2012, med å spille inn tapes og legge ut låter på Soundcloud. Før det var det litt i det små med elektroniske eksperimenter og påkallelser. Første album på ordentlig plate kom i fjor. Jeg har eid theremin og båndekko siden 90-tallet og brukt elektroniske ting i prog og psykedelia lenge, men ikke som noe eget prosjekt før de siste seks-sju årene.

Du har mange spennede titler på dine sanger?

Fordelen med å jobbe hovedsakelig instrumentalt, er at du kan gi låtene skikkelig fete titler uten å måtte følge opp med en skikkelig fet tekst. Jeg beskriver med titlene hva sangene ser ut som for meg når jeg prøver å forestille meg noe visuelt til lyden.

Vi føler at mange av sangerne kunne vart musikk inspirert av Theodor Severin Kittelsen  og svenske John Bauer som Juan Atkins eller Ravemusikk ifra 90 talet. Er det noe andre kunstnærer som inspirerar?

Jeg er veldig inspirert av skogen der jeg bor, på Lindeberg, som møter blinkingen fra flyene, helikoptrene og lysene fra industri og blokker i Groruddalen, så både Bauer og Kittelsen passer, men også H.R. Giger og Pushwagner er inspirasjonskilder. Musikalsk er jeg inspirert av Bo Hansson, Phuture, the Orb, Cluster, Harmonia, Tangerine Dream og Lee Perry. Ravemusikk fra nittitallet er klart en inspirasjon, ting jeg har hørt på fest opp gjennom, på DJ-sett rundt forbi, masse greier jeg ikke vet hva heter. Jeg har alltid likt jungle og drum n’bass og fikk en ny interesse for å dra ut og danse da dubstep kom til Bergen rundt 2006, med Benga og Skream og sånt, og fester i bunkeren på Nordnes/Teknikkerkroen. Dubstep fikk meg til å teste ut theremin med ringmodulator for ordentlig dyp bass. Da sprengte jeg PA-anlegget i øvingslokalet.

Hva kan du fortelle meg om instrumentene dine på “Fangarmer Gjennom Tid og Rom” albumet?

Det er en haug med synther og trommemaskiner jeg har samla opp de siste årene, alt er koblet sammen og synkronisert, stort sett ferdig programmert, men med mye variasjon av filtere, ADSR og transponeringer underveis. Det er mye jobb med å mikse ting ut og inn, det spilles inn på bånd hele greia på en gang, så det er fort at ting må gjøres om igjen. Så er det pålegg med fløyte, theremin, mellotron og diverse synther etterpå, siden jeg ikke fikser å spille alt samtidig. Det som går inn i mikseren og videre til bånd er Korg MS-20, Arp Odyssey og/eller Behringer D styrt av en Arturia Beatstep Pro, som igjen er styrt av en Boss RC-300 looper der jeg har en haug med nye og gamle loops av alt mulig rart, gjerne kule patcher eller melodilinjer fra mellotron eller fløyte. Dette er synkronisert med Korg EMX-1, Volca Beats og Arturia Drumbrute, så er det Cyclone TT-303 for acid og gjerne en Boss Syb-5 på Volca Beats for enda mer acid. Jeg liker å legge et par pedaler inn med ulike filtere for å holde ting møkkete og stereopanorert litt hulter til bulter. Selve mikseren har RE-201 space echo og Mooger Fooger Cluster Flux koblet til, for dyp ekko og flanger/phaser effekter. Det er veldig mye kobling og knotting, jeg legger mye vekt på å lete etter oppsett som får mest mulig til å jobbe sammen på en gang, og finne ut hvor jeg kan få en ledig hånd til å vri på enda en knott mens alt det andre går.

Er bergstroll fredlige?

Bergtroll er ikke fredelige, de er alltid ute etter å snike seg innpå noen for å ta dem. Men de er så store og tunge at det ikke fungerer særlig bra. Du hører dem lenge før de kommer, som en illevarslende trasking nede i fjellet

Er det noe forskjell på Bergstroll og internett troll? Hvordan skal man forsvare seg mot de?

Eneste måten å forsvare seg mot bergtroll er å snu og løpe. Hvis ikke blir du spist eller pult og tvunget til å bli boende med dem inne i fjellet. Eller pult, tvunget til å bo med dem inne i fjellet, og så spist. Troll på internett er litt det samme, hvis ikke du holder deg unna, tar de deg til fange og tar mange år av livet ditt og spiser deg opp eller puler deg, men i en mer overført betydning.

Hvordan finner du på så kule titler? Vi gleder oss til denne giggen!!!

Takk for det! Jeg finner på titler ved å tenke på sangen og gå for det første jeg kommer på.

Hvor får jeg kjøpt den nye musikken?  

Musikken er tilgjengelig fra bandcamp, https://alwanzatar.bandcamp.com/ eller i platesjapper, f.eks. Big Dipper eller Tiger. Jeg tar også med meg noen skiver og kassetter til Jaeger!

Olanskii, Øyvind Morken, and Prins Thomas head to Kala 2019

Kala festival in Albania adds Jæger residents Olanskii and Øyvind Morken to the line-up with Prins Thomas.

In its second year running, Kala Festival returns to their picture paradise location with a summer line-up for the ages. Featuring the likes of Josey Rebelle, Honey Dijon, Secret Sundaze and CC: Disco against the backdrop of the Albania rivera replete with white sandy beaches, azure waters and intimate musical stages, Kala festival tick all the right boxes for a musical summer break. Just look at these pictures from last year.

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Jæger will be there too with Olanskii and Øyvind Morken and honorary Jæger resident Prins Thomas over the course of the weeklong program. Expect some House, Disco and Balearic sounds echoing down a sun-streaked beach beyond a green gully with some of the worlds best selectors. Tickets are on sale now and you can get them here.

Album of the Week: N’Draman Blintch – Cosmic Sounds

The Nigerian artist N’Draman Blintch and the album Cosmic Sounds is one of those records that’s been steeped in mystery and folklore in the record community for some time. It has all the markings of a cult classic: an artist that disappeared into obscurity, affiliations with an infamous record producer and a host of musicians that went on to great careers in music after it was released.

Very little is known about N’Draman Blintch, and after releasing three records within a year of each other in 1980, his name never comes up again in music history. The record sleeve and various online references only refer to his academic career and that his favourite hobby is “sleeping and dreaming,” possibly in an effort from the label to create an aura of myth around him.

One of the myths they’ve chosen to dispel around the release however is its tenuous connection to William Onyeabar. While Blintch might have recorded parts of his previous album, “Cikamele” in Onyeabor’s Nigerian studio, there is irrefutable evidence he was no in deed the producer of this record that everybody assumed he was.

Cosmic sounds boasts some incredible musicians too like Lemmy Jackson and Gasper Lawal, but on of the most surprising collaborators is Carol Kenyon, who later went on to be the voice of Heaven 17’s “Temptation” as well as doing lead- and backing vocals on a host of iconic eighties pop albums, just check her wiki page. It’s no surprise that the only original copy available for sale at the moment is coming in at an eye watering €1200, but on a recent trip to our local record store we were able to secure a copy for a mere €22.00. We love re-issues. Cosmic Sounds is too good to keep vaulted in some glass house where it can’t be pawed at, and played until the grooves are worn out.

Opening track “Self Destruction”  leaps over the grooves as it bounces in a funky Disco staccato over the grooves of the record. There’s a fusion element to the track which expands over the next few tracks, but “Self Destruction” is sultry Disco stepper with keys melting in the heat of that funky bass. Percussion weaves in lattice pattern around a space-aged progressive arrangement, pulsing with a primal energy.

Syncopated rhythms, Funky bass-lines and staccato keys might have been common place by the 1980’s but N’Draman Blinth and his band touch the borders of space with this record as synthesisers dart across speakers like Todd Terje’s Inspector Norse, threading their way through the tightly organised organic elements from the musicians.

From “Self Destruction” through to “Cosmic Sounds”  the band maintain some inhuman intensity in upbeat arrangements that even through their extensive journey of the extended tracks on the record that never seem to get tedious. Transporting you form one end of a track to the last through a inter-dimensional beam, “Cosmic Sounds” touch on a variety of elements and styles and phases, before it dissipates completely into the soulful lament of the closing track, “She Africa.”

A view from the other side with Ben Sims

Where do you start a story on Ben Sims? A veteran of the Techno scene, he’s been working as a producer, DJ and label owner on the extended Techno circuit for nearly as long as the genre has existed. He’s been a stalwart facilitator for Techno and House since the nineties, an unwavering presence in the booth, both physically and metaphysically.

Do we start a story of Ben Sims at the beginning, back at the moment of conception where a young Hip Hop enthusiast turned from making mixtapes in the bedroom to the new exciting sounds of House and Techno’s golden era? Or do we turn the clock back to the late nineties where Ben Sims went from a DJ to producer releasing his first records through his own labels, Theory and Hardgroove and later for the likes of Tresor and Drumcode?

We could start at either of those barbs on his extended, intertwining musical timeline but his most significant contribution to has been in the attitude and ideology he pursues as an artist , DJ and label owner. His debut and only LP, smoke and Mirrors on Drumcode; his perpetual determination for a hard-edged sound even during the epoch of minimal Techno or Tech-House; and his refined sense in the booth as a DJ all comes from a core belief what Techno is and he is absolutely resolute in his singular pursuit.

Whether he’s harnessing all that experience in his unique style as a DJ, piecing together fragments from the diverse corners of electronic music in sound collage only he could see or making bold dance floor cuts as an artist through his various aliases like Ron Bacardi, Ben Sims has remained steadfast in his ideological view of Techno.

Without any hyperbolic implication, Ben Sims is a giant amongst men in the world of Techno. He’s always pursued a singular vision of Techno and as it moves in and out vogue, he wavers little from the path of the golden era of Detroit, only updating elements of his sound and tracks in his booth with the natural passage of time. “I’m usually older than the promoter and the person that owns the fucking building,” he muses in a gravelly working-man’s southern-English accent when we call him up for an interview, and yet he still packs a room and leaves an indelible mark whenever he is in the booth.

Ever the restless figure, in recent years, he’s established a new event series turned label in Machine; brought back the label Symbolism; established his NTS Run it Red show, which  has been going strong now for 45 episodes; and started a new project with Truncate as ASSAILANTS, all while still releasing music as Ben Sims on labels like Deeply Rooted and DJing week in and week out. 

It’s a very productive time for Ben Sims. After releasing their first single as ASSAILANTS this year, he and Truncate are  “working on a follow up EP which is 60% done.” It’s a project Sims says “happened quite naturally” after the pair had been friends for a few years and played together and remixed each other’s records. ”It’s not something we’ve placed any pressure on or stuck to any kind of plan,” he says “It’s just something we enjoyed working on together.” They released their first single via the new label Obscurity is Infinite this year and hope to release the next some time in the spring of next year, but while he is currently enjoying working as an artist, he’s also returned to the role of label owner through his dormant Symbolism imprint after taking a hiatus from the record industry.

Although Sims closed the chapter on his Theory label some four years back, he did “miss running” the label. “It’s great to put a bit of focus back into a record label again,” he says and releasing artists that he’s “really excited about.” With a few releases primed for this year, he chose Symbolism because it “had always felt unfinished,” a “victim of distribution companies going bust.” He couldn’t just leave it like that and wanted to “bring Symbolism to a better kind of conclusion,” but today it has taken on a life of its own and it looks like it’s here to stay.

Running labels “feels like an important part of it” to Ben Sims, and he has his fair share of experience at that level, but it’s particularly as a DJ where he’s etched his name into the electronic music legend.

It’s in that spirit that he and Kirk Degiorgio established Machine. “It was his idea,” says Sims about the concept. “He was very passionate about music as well and we have similar backgrounds.” In 2011 they were both getting really “excited about modern Techno,” and started hosting “low key parties, with a focus on only playing new and unreleased Techno.” The event grew and traveled, as they got more “ambitious” with their guestlist. “Somewhere in there we did three releases with music from us that we just tested out at the parties,” but Sims insists it was never intended to be a label, but merely an extension of the club night.

It makes sense that the next release on Machine will be a 50-track compilation and Ben Sims mix titled, “Tribology”. It frames the context of the club night, and in Sims’ opinion “it helps put (Machine) into the consciousness of those who haven’t heard it before.”

It makes sense to pick up Ben’s story here at this moment, because over the last twenty years, he’s deviated little from the same purpose that informs a club night like Machine, his ASSAILANTS project and the rebirth of Symbolism. That’s the context to which he returns to Jæger this week, and it’s with that looming in the background that we called him up for a Q&A session to talk about DJing, for a view from the other side.

*Ben Sims plays Frædag x Filter Musikk this Friday.

The last time you were here you were here as Ron Bacardi. What are your memories of that night?

I was playing outside in the terrace and it was kind of a light-hearted vibe with people drinking and chatting. It suited the music I was playing. It was nice to have the balance of doing something different now and again.

Listening to your Run it Red NTS podcast as Ben Sims, it’s very eclectic and there are often elements of House in there. Why do you feel you need to split your aliases in that way?

There are some places and crowds that are open-minded, and want to hear DJs mix it up and incorporate different genres and styles. But I’ve found over the years, unless I’m specific about what I’m going to do, people get a bit disappointed and they expect to hear peak-time Ben Sims all of the time. I guess that’s more implied in places I’ve been going a long time, like Spain and Holland and I understand that. Having a different name for it does allow me to be a little bit self-indulgent, and as Ron Bacardi I can play House and I can play Disco, and go off in tangents. I like my Techno sets to be littered with different styles, but having another name allows me to go further than I ever could before as an extension of a Techno set.

Do you think it has only happened more recently as Techno has become a little more restrictive from the nineties when House and Techno were a bit more fluid?

No, not necessarily. I come from a very mixed musical background and earlier I could play a lot more different styles in a set, but that’s because I wasn’t on at peak time. You get more room to experiment and I used to try and push it as far as I could, and when you slide into headline clubs, it is difficult to play House for an hour or play some Disco tracks. The times I did try something different and it was billed as something like a Ben Sims Acid House set, a Disco set, or even a Drum n Bass set – I’ve done a few of those – there will always be some people that would be disappointed because it had my name on the flyer and they weren’t getting what they wanted.

Do you think your releases on staunch Techno labels like Tresor and your own Theory label, might play a hand in that you feel you have to abide to that sound, and give your fans that kind of experience?

There will always be an element of that. I always want to represent what I’m into, what my vision of Techno is. That hasn’t really changed a lot since I started making it and playing on the circuit. I have a certain idea of what Techno is and my favourite sounds or groups within it and the core of that hasn’t changed at all.

Could you describe that sound?

It’s energy, but not just because it’s fast. It’s some kind of drive or groove to it. I always used to refer to the sound as hardgroove. It’s still got to be funky, and have a raw element. A lot of it tends to sound like it was done on a bedroom setup – not over-produced. I like a different styles, but usually it’s quite stripped back and rhythmic. It’s stuff that locks you in a groove and you can get lost in it. It can’t be disposable and not just hard for the sake of it. It needs to have some sort of funk or groove.

Harking back to that original Detroit sound?

Yes, that’s still where my inspiration and excitement for Techno comes from, the first wave of Detroit stuff. It’s not necessarily the music I make, but that’s still what inspires me, and as Techno has changed and different countries and cities have become the focal point of the scene, I haven’t really changed. As this generation is looking to the sound of Berlin, I’m not really doing that, because Techno is Detroit.

It’s exactly because of Berlin that it’s enjoying another wave of popularity at the moment, but as a veteran that’s seen it go through various phases of popularity, do you feel that you have to adapt to the surroundings at all?

There’ll be be new sounds or fads that would come along that would interest me, and I’ll incorporate new stuff, but I won’t just jump on it because that’s what people are excited about. It has to interest me. And I think the reason, I’ve been doing this for twenty-odd years is that people appreciate it and that might also be why some people don’t like what I do, because I stick to the same sound. I play the stuff that I like within Techno, and as long as I’m playing the stuff that I like it’s hopefully contagious.

Just looking at the tracklists for Run it Red I know that you go through a lot of tracks during the course of a mix, but it’s not just about playing one track after the other it seems, but rather piecing together little musical vignettes to create this massive mix. What is your thought process when it comes to putting those tracks together for the sake of the radio show and this upcoming Tribology mix for Machine?

I’ve only realised this recently, but I think I attack it like a puzzle that needs to be solved. There’s an element of me trying to squeeze in as much possible, to incorporate as much as I can. It’s similar to the way I do club set where I’ll just put in the best bits of things. I’ll have a definite starting point and end point and just piece it together form there.

With the Tribology mix, it was just going to be a compilation, and me mixing it was a bit of an afterthought. It was about getting the artists involved that I play regularly and guests that have played at the Machine parties to contribute tracks. It was a compilation to support the tour and something physical for the parties we were doing. Then I thought it would be nice if I mixed it, and then from that point it needed to turn from a 10-15 track compilation to enough tracks to do a mix that was worthwhile doing. That was going to be 30-35 tracks and then it just spiralled and it became 50.

Yes, I very rarely play one track on its own, and that’s how I attack putting the music together. That’s the challenge for me, to get as much together and for it to make sense and for it to flow.

Does that mean there’s a lot of planning that goes into something like that Tribology mix?

As I was approaching artists that were going to be involved, unconsciously I was already planning some order. When they started sending tracks over some were like “o, well, here’s five choose one” and I was like “actually I could use all of it.” I was solving the puzzle of putting it together as I was compiling it. Like a DJ set, I always knew where the start was going to be, where I want to be half-way through it and what possible ending there could be, although you don’t always get there.

 

You mentioned some similarities to your club sets, but how does mixtape or your radio show differ from a club set, do you miss that physical energy of a club in those kind of sets?

I do tend to feed off of the feedback from people. If I’m going in a direction that’s progressively harder or intense, that’s different according to the crowd. I don’t always do that with mixes or podcasts, because it’s not always appropriate. I do approach them in a certain way however as in the way I mix is the way I mix. To a certain extent it doesn’t really matter if someone is in the room or not. I do tend switch off from the surroundings a little bit, and sometimes I’d realise; “fuck I hadn’t looked up for ten minutes,” because I’m so focussed to piecing it together that I forget that I’m doing it for someone else.

Is it focus from being busy with your hands or focussing on the music?

I think it’s the latter. It’s my escapism and my way of relaxing and the only thing that’s important is the next record your mixing. In the end it’s a simple life and does get you away from the stresses of the world. You can really get lost in it and I do get off on that.

You must find yourself playing to younger and younger audiences, and just from my own perspective it feels to me that there’s more of an immediacy to this next generation’s needs. Do you feel you need to adapt to that immediacy and intensity of youth in your sets today?

I’m not on the dance floor anymore, but I used to be a lot through my late teens and early twenties, which is the crowd I’m playing for now, and I guess I just kind of remember that. It’s helpful to remember what it is like to be on the dance floor and all pumped up. It’s something that I’ve never forgotten, and sometimes I might approach my set by going in a little bit heavy at the start, just to grab their attention and then back off a little bit later. Whereas if I went with my plan it would be to just ease them in. It’s a bit tactical. To some extent I do miss it, otherwise I wouldn’t be out there doing it for other people.

I guess that’s what keeps the music pushing forward, not just the new music, but a new interest in the music.

Yes. if I were to play to a room of people my age, just scratching their chins that wouldn’t be much fun. You need the injection of new life. Unless you get involved in the scene or step the other side of the booth, clubbing has a shelf life and people drop off.

Where do you see Techno going next if you could gaze into your crystal ball with all your experience?

(Laughs) It feels like it’s dropping off in popularity and that’s ok with me. It doesn’t always help when it’s at its peak of popularity, it does water things down a little bit. That doesn’t mean there isn’t more work out there for a short period of time, but that’s not really promoting longevity, it becomes fashion.

I do prefer it when it’s not in that peak moment, because the crowd is there for the right reasons and the people that are making it are doing it because that’s what they are passionate about, and it feels that period is what we’re slipping into now.

After minimal Techno and Tech House was so massive, and Techno was the underdog, it kind of swapped around and I think that’s going to go away again. I’m not really too sure to what, I thought it might be Trance but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I’d be interested to see where it goes, but I doubt I will be following it.

And one last question Ben, before I ‘ll let you go: what are your expectations of the set at Jæger for this weekend?

It’s a great space. It’s been a couple of years ago that I played there and I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s great playing somewhere for the first time, but I do like to go back armed with the knowledge of what it’s like and what kind of things work and what don’t and feel a bit more comfortable with  the setup. I’m just really looking forward to it.

The Truth behind MANOID

An intricate sadness overwhelms the listener on MANOID’s debut LP, “Truth” as droplets of electronic melodies pour down from some desolate post-utopian wasteland. Elements like broken neon lights flicker for a moment in the foreground, before disappearing into the miasmic orchestration between man and machine. For a moment, a semblance of life appears as a lone string quivers on the fringes of the music in a legato dirge before the opening track, “No Time”  disappears back into the nothing from which it arrived.

There’s a humility captured on “Truth” that borders on despair which MANOID (Karol Murawski)  tells me is “really a truth from heart” that he’s trying to convey through music in his debut album. He’s in Warsaw, Poland where he lives when I phone him up to talk about his latest album and more and in a pronounced Polish accent, he elucidates; “I created this album at a really important moment in life.”

The sadness I perceive at first is in fact a serene gravitas at the core of the album, an artist projecting some inner truth through the musical form. “Truth” coincided with the birth of his son and the album was about really trying to “catch the moment” which he does in music that combines effervescent synthesis with blistering rhythms, interjected with stark melancholic movements.

“To Grieve” enshrined the artist’s music in the recorded format for the first time. Released via hafendisko (a HFN sublabel), bulging percussive arrangements thread through a dynamic electronic topography. Raspy synths protruding out of the rolling landscape interject waves of texture that envelope the audio spectrum. A stark arid cloud hangs overhead with elements of white noise and static controting through the track that established MANOID as a recording artist. It was the first track he sent to the Hamburg based label label, while the sound of the budding LP was still finding its voice.

How did the Polish artist end up on a Hamburg label?

“It’s really simple,” he explains. Some of his “family lives in Hamburg” and he would often visit them there. He became familiar with the label through the music of Kasper Bjørke and sent them the demo for “To Grieve”. Two weeks later HFN  answered “yes, it’s cool, we want to release it,” but y then the idea of an album had started to take shape, and Karol would only give them the single if they released the album. The acquiesced and “Truth” was born.

MANOID draws comparisons and inspiration from the likes of Kasper Bjørke, Trentmøller and Andy Stott, Karol tells me. “Andy Stott is much darker than me,” he suggests. Where Stott’s music prefers a fractured kind of dissonance created by raw materials, MANOID favours “clarity” above all else. There’s a glossy kind of sheen to the music that barely ripples as beats skip through the arrangements. Although inspired by an artist like Stott, for Manoid it was never about emulating their sound, but rather the philosophy that informs an artist like that or Max Cooper’s work.

“For me it’s always curious to hear an artist whose made a really interesting palette of sound,” he says. As MANOID it was about “looking for something new” and that couldn’t be about co-opting someone else’s sounds. “It’s easy to recreate someone else’s sounds,” he suggest, but that’s not what he’s striving for in music. “I want to create my own style,” and for that he relies on “field recordings and whole palette of effects” to achieve the desired results. He combines those elements into a lonesome soliloquy from machines tethered to the depths of the artist’s own experiences and feelings.

Before MANOID, Karol Murawski was an unknown, trying to find his voice as an artist and producer. Born and raised in “a small village on the east of the country,” Karol grew up on the edge of a forest, a “really small village surrounded by trees and maybe fifty people, mostly old people”

What sort of music would he have been exposed to?

“I had the internet, and my friends were listening to Hip-Hop.” Besides skating and listening to Hip Hop there wasn’t much else to do but make music. At first he “tried to make some hip hop beats,” but it wouldn’t be long before the allure of electronic was too good to resist. Through electronic music he first found those “endless possibilities to make new sounds” that would eventually inform MANOID. He bought his first synthesiser, the small but powerful Waldorf Blofeld, and “from that moment it was easy to learn how to create these new sounds.”

When it came time to go to university, he moved to the bigger city of Lublin to pursue his studies, all the while nurturing his own artistic endeavours. In Poland where there are “maybe two or three” dedicated electronic music labels and “straight proper Techno” is dominating the clubs and festivals at the moment, the Polish scene is only now “starting to grow up” according to MANOID. Festivals like UNSOUND in Krakow and big city “clubs where you can go and see underground music” are also nurturing more of an experimental electronic scene in the country.

It’s from this spectrum of electronic music that MANOID too would emerge as an artist, but he shares no personal connection to any particular scene at home. He’s a singular figure that occupies a corner of electronic music where heady electronic textures eddie and swirl around stoic dance floor constructions like Techno, without succumbing to the hardened sounds of the dance floor genre.

His latest single, “Take Me” is the only song from the album that features vocals and has all the markings of a crossover success, similar to something like Trentmøller’s “Moan” or Andy Stott’s “Faith in Strangers.” Although MANOID’s purpose was to create an “instrumental album” by the time he “finished the draft of ‘Take Me’” he felt that he “missed something.” He approached HFN label affiliate and Darkness Falls vocalist Josephine Philip to collaborate on  the penitent slow-churning charmer “Take Me.”

Philip’s vocal adds that essential element of human warmth to the album in a plaintive lament that emphasises the stark electronic atmosphere of the entire album. “Truth” plays on the same kind of evocative mood that from its influences, but as MANOID, Karol avoids any perceptible relationship to any other artist, and rather tethers his sound to something personal, that lives beyond the sound.

The album lives on today in a live show, which MANOID uses as a platform to “recreate and expand the songs.”  Including new and unreleased material, he says “the live show is always something different” and in the MANOID ethos he continues to strive for “something new.”

It’s unclear where this will take him next, but you get the sense that it will surely not be fleeting or immediate. There’s a gravitas on his debut album that sits with the listener as it fades out through “letting freedom grow.” MANOID leaves the album something of a cliff hanger with probably the most beat-driven track on the entire album, with a fluffy 4-4 kick and those brooding electronics pulsing to the beat of a dormant dance floor. As 16 bars count out the end, there’s a sense that “Truth” might be unfinished, but MANOID has indeed said all he has to say, for now.

 

*MANOID plays live this weekend for Frædag x Filter Musikk

 

Album of the week: Matthew Dear – Bunny

Matthew Dear has come a long way from the staccato, bric-a-brac House of 1999’s “Put your hands up for Detroit.” He has become a transient figure in the margins of indie-pop music, genre-hopping through the years under various aliases and habituated to change. From the woozy neo-Disco of his early releases like “Backstroke” to the post-pop-punk of his critically acclaimed 2012 LP “Beams,” Matthew Dear darts between styles and sounds like a hummingbird, feeding off elements of Detroit Techno, eighties synth-Pop and the pseudo-pop a la Talking Heads and David Bowie.

His Technoid aliases, Audion, Jabberjaw and False veer the furthest off the grid and onto the dance floor, with purposeful electronica made for the likes of Spectral Sound and M_nus, which leaves his eponymous work free from these temporary indulgences and focussed on crafting an individual sound as an artist, which in recent years has seen Matthew Dear find his voice; both figuratively and literally.

Since “Beams” his voice has moved into the foreground taking a more of a central role in his work where it sounds today like the music comes together around his vocal part rather than the other way around.

It is the most prominent it’s ever been on his latest album, “Bunny.” Matthew Dear’s sixth studio album favours a more organic approach, constructed from  soothing melodies coerced into popular forms with Matthew Dear’s gravelling baritone touching on familiar themes of love and life written from the sober perspective of an older, wiser man. Tracks like “Echo” talks of the frivolities of carefree youth with a nostalgic sentiment, but there is also a palpable sadness that traces through the entire album, hovering above the upbeat arrangements like a restless spirit looking for some form absolution in the happiness of others.

Jangly guitars find a unique synchronicity with drum machines and synthesisers on “Bunny,” something that might have carried over from Dear’s work on the MGMT remix album. Matthew Dear has never conformed to a contemporary pop sensibility before like he has on “Bunny.” His albums in the past would usually arrive at pop, through a kind of skewed vision of popular culture through the fringes of  music, but on “Bunny” there seems to be an intent to create contemporary pop album from Dear. There’s an immediacy to the album, an accessibility, but there’s also a sincerity to it, that doesn’t appear forced or disingenuous. Matthew Dear might have made a contemporary pop album on “Bunny”, but he did so on his own terms, not bucking to trends, but manipulating it to his vision.

Matthew Dear’s work has always been for the committed fan, but on “Bunny” there’ the potential for individual tracks to live beyond the album, and reach a new, younger audience. He never really veers off the path of the sound of the album, and there’s a very intimate connection between all the tracks, but tracks like “Bad Ones” and “Heroes” have all the markings of chart success.

In the booth with Ivaylo

Beyond the glistening electronic particles colliding in the audible frequency spectrum, a burbling creek of rhythms tumble over each other in slow motion, refracting the dusty reflections of a synthesised organism into the atmosphere. A languid, pulsing humidity clouds a dense forest of sounds, with irregular peaks jutting out into the upper edge of the unattainable heights of the clouds, for fleeting glimpses of melodic arrangements. Digital noise like micro-organisms gather around any semblance of life as they form a subtle quilt of sound.

In the absence of the Jæger mix this week, due to some unforeseen circumstances, Jæger mix resident Ivaylo steps up to the challenge to soundtrack our weekend ahead. Pacing gently through the abstract landscape of ambient music and broken beat, he sets a somber tone through the hour long mix recorded in our basement last Sunday.

 

People still call me Roxy with rRoxymore

There is an innate contrast to the music Hermione Frank makes as rRoxymore. Pensive rhythms are rendered in the rapier stabs at synthesisers and drum machines forming pristine, silky arrangements that glide over the surface of bouncing tracks. Her music seems to be made from fleeting encounters between the conscious and the subconscious that at times feel very raw and organic even though the machine aesthetic naturally belies those connotations.  

Her artistic moniker is an anagram of “oxymoron” in French  – “I just added another ‘r’ because people kept calling my roxy, but it hasn’t changed, but people still call me Roxy” – and her music like her chosen alias is a contradiction in terms that has left an unique impression both as a recording artist and a live performer.

Refining her craft as a DJ through her teens in Montpellier France and then Paris, hers was always a very inclusive approach, fusing disparate elements it seems she’s “always wanted to melt things like this,” according to a Factmag interview. “I wanted to mix organic stuff and electronic, so I would start with disco or a jazzy thing, then funky, playing trip-hop maybe and finishing on house.”

From DJing her route into music would follow a less orthodox route by today’s standards where she made her first impressions on the dance floor as a live performer, performing both as a solo artists and with other musicians. It was after moving to Berlin where she would make the  biggest stride of her career when she befriended rising DFA star Planningtorock, to become part of the touring live band and subsequently release records on the the artist’s Human Level label.

Since making her debut as a recording artist with 2012’s “Precarious/ Precious Ep”, she’s gone on to release records for Paula Temple’s Noise Manifesto, Don’t be Afraid and most recently Ostgut Ton.

2017’s “Thoughts of an Introvert” and its follow up, “Thoughts of an introvert part 2” became something of a breakout hit for the artist with various antennae vibrating at the frequencies rRoxymore was transmitting. Those tracks were born out of a time and place where Frank “wasn’t feeling Techno” anymore, but those records weren’t as a much an evolution of her work as it was establishing the music of rRoxymore outside an epoch.

While these records and the inclusion of “Tropicalcore” in Fiedel’s recent Berghain mix and compilation has certainly introduced rRoxymore to a larger audience, she’s always been steadfast in her approach to music, combining philosophies to informing a kind of lucid abstract music that is very unique to her as an artist.

We wanted to know more about these ideas ,the influences that inform her work and her live show, and before her arrival at Charlotte Bendiks’ IRONI, we called her up and found a very amiable personality, friendly yet succinct in her answers with hearty titter often punctuating the end of her sentences.

I’ve been listening to thoughts of an introvert part 1 and 2 while preparing for this interview and I’ve read somewhere that at time of writing those pieces, you weren’t feeling Techno anymore. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

There are two sides to the coin: One is more like a dark account while the other one was more of a positive way of dealing with the world to sum up the state of mind I was in when I wrote it.

It’s got a very organic feel to those records, almost in an improvised Jazz style. Was there anything about those records that changed the way you made records previously?

The modus operandi behind this was always the same, but yes maybe it has more of that improvised feel, that has always been a part of my work. Maybe you feel it more here in these tracks than the previous releases. If you hear some Jazz influences I’m really happy about that because it was a big influence.

While we’re on the subject of influences, tell me a bit more about your earliest musical influences and how much did Jazz play a role?

I’ve been listening to electronic music for a long time, but I grew up in a Jazz home – in fact my dad is very much a Jazz head. So Jazz was very much an influence, I won’t deny that.

When did you start picking up electronic music and DJing?

When I was a teenager I already started DJing and I was really into this kind of music. It’s always been there, and there was a phase I was not so interested, but then it came back to me. It was a passion for while.

I’ve read somewhere that when you started DJing, it was about mixing organic sounds with the more abstract electronic sounds.

Yes.

Did that inform a large part of what you took into making music too?

Yes, totally. I’ve always had this idea (now it might not sound so new) to have this organic sound mixed with a very rigid structure that comes from a computer. I’ve always wanted to have these two types of philosophies working together. You can hear it in my tastes and also in my production.

You said computer there, but the few times I’ve seen you live, it’s always looked to be a machine-based thing. Are you using the computer more than the analogue machines?

When I say computer, I mean both the computer and the machines. Analogue for you might be a synth, but analogue for me has other connotations.

Your first record  came out in 2012 but I believe you had been performing live for some time before then.

Yes totally.

So do you approach the aspects of production in the same way as you do a live set?

No I think the two are very different. Even though I keep in mind that I have to re-transcribe my music for the live setting, but they are two different things. In the studio I like to spend time on sound design and stuff like this, but when I approach the live part I have to consider other things to make it work. I don’t work in the same way, no.

So when you are re-transcribing the things for a live show, is it about recreating those tracks in a  recorded sense?

Yes and no. It is a part of it, but there’s a lot of improvisation in a way too.

 

I became familiar with your work through Planningtorock, when you were part of her live act and after you released your first EP on her label Human Level. How did you meet and start working together?

We met through MySpace when I was living in Paris and when I moved to Berlin, she was one of the first people I got in touch with. At that time she was about to release her second album on DFA and she was looking for someone to tour with and I had that experience already and it came very easily. We became very good friends, and we toured together for many years. She’s been a big support.

You’re other affiliation is with the label don’t be afraid, and you’ve worked extensively with them. What do you enjoy about working with them?

It’s really easy. Andy is a true passionate guy about music and the music scene. He’s very low key and super generous and he really understands me and gives me all the freedom I want… I don’t need more. (laughs)

I’ve a lot struggles with other labels. People often approach me and ask me to send them music, but they want me to tailor something for what they have in mind, which is very difficult. You should always trust your artist and follow what they are offering.

The other release that has a special place in my personal record collection, is the Decon/Recon #1 on Paula Temple’s Noise Manifesto. It’s such an interesting concept. What was that experience like and how did the idea come around?

It was great, especially at that time. It made sense because we all shared the same studio. It was Paula’s idea to bring us all together so it came together really easily. It was really nice. We had a few gigs together as well and it was really good.

I’m interested in your upcoming live set, and I’m curious what it will sound like.

It will be very dancy and more playful for a club night. A lot of drum machines and bass drums.

Is it easy to relay those sort of organic sounds and rhythms in your production for some of the tracks on “thoughts of an introvert “in the live show?

I don’t play that one so much. I keep the more straightforward ones for the club environment. It will still be very organic, but I might only play one of the tracks from that EP. We’ll see… now that you mention it I might.

So you adapt your set accordingly.

Yes, of course. I can’t play the same if I play at three- or four am than if, for instance tomorrow I play at nine whee the vibe will be more artsy, so yes I’ll adapt accordingly.

Do you think that your set at Jæger will be more in line with track you released on the recent Berghain compilation?

Yes.

 

Profile on Midland

In a scene for the Resident Advisor video documentary Between the Beats an audience member entreats Midland (Harry Agius); ”please save ‘Final Credits’ for the end of the set”. “I don’t think it’s going to be there tonight”, says Agius, smiling through the words to let the fan down gently into “I’m phasing it out.” In 2016 “Final Credits” propelled Agius’ career to new “uncomfortable” heights on a trajectory that put Midland on the lips of every discerning music enthusiast but the time of the video documentary in 2018.

The invigorating burbling of a bass and drum kit exchanging familirities through a Disco dialect sets an amicable tone that’s accentuated by the raspy reed, synthesised in the melodic region. It touches on some deep personal level when an expressive vocal joins the cavalcade, transporting the listener back through time to the future as predicted in the 1970’s. “I just wanted to write some music for the essential mix” he told Between the Beats. After making it and listening to it “fifty times in the studio,” he sent it to Jackmaster who said “yeah we listened to it like a hundred times at an after party.” Agius realised that “this record has some legs.”

Already an established and respected DJ and producer at the time “Final Credits” came out, it was in no-way a launchpad for Midland’s career, but rather something of a crossover success for the artist.

Harry Agius doesn’t think he’s “innately talented” according to a XLR8R interview from 2018, but he’d always been a fan of music to an obsessive extent. Growing up in East Africa, his earliest musical experiences were handed down to him from his parents, “stuff with a strong emotional tie, with structure” like Abba and the Beach Boys. It set on him on path of discovery that would have him hopping over genres and decades with zeal, encouraged too by his older siblings (5 of them to be exact). Everything from Led Zeppelin to Prodigy informed the young Agius’ musical tastes which only expounded by the time he moved back to the UK at the age of 13.

It was while at school that the DJ bug first bit when Agius was handed a copy of an Andy C set. “It was on the way to a rugby game on a school bus,” Midland remembers in an interview with Billboard Magazine. “The moment I got back I took out the CD decks and was like, right: how do I make things play at the same speed?” He became “obsessed with drum and bass”, while mastering the intricacies of becoming a DJ as a teen. “I was super young, super keen, went to every party, met everyone, chatted to everyone,” he explains. “The guy who ran the radio station, they used to host a room at one of the biggest rave nights in the city. I was watching the DJs with him; every song I would just tell him the name and chat about it. He was like, ‘Just shut up — you can have a set!'”

It wouldn’t be long before drum n bass became too restrictive however and Agius realised, “because of the tempo, there wasn’t a huge amount of area to maneuver.” He set out on a trip through Spain for a month and purposely left his ipod at home in an effort to step away from drum n bass. When he returned to the UK, he would find a renewed appreciation for the more lethargic tempos of Aphex Twin and Moderat and made his first tentative steps into the world of production. “I think that’s what lost quite a few people in the early days, that my music was very unplayable,” remarks Agius in Billboard.

Between all of this Midland found himself at university in Leeds, where he befriended future Hessle Audio member, David Kennedy, aka Ramadanman / Pearson Sound. Kennedy had seen Agius DJing through the window in his dorm room and the pair struck up a relationship that endures to this day. They were housemates for 6 years, living in Leeds and then London and would eventually start working together as producers, but not till much later. ”Initially we were on slightly different vibes musically, when they were starting the label I was deep in to drum and bass but as things have progressed our styles have began to cross over in places.”

Agius watched the the Hessle Audio collective go from hosting an online radio station, using his decks, to “one of the most inspiring collective of DJ’s/label guys and producers around” according to an interview with Wired. “Moments like seeing David play his first FWD at plastic people, getting their residency at Fabric, Ricardo playing David’s tunes, their respective Fabric/essential mixes were all such important moments to witness.”

Midland’s own career would follow a slightly different but parallel route to similar greatness. In Leeds he started working for the internationally acclaimed Wire club while making music and trying to get gigs on the side. “At times I found it really hard”, he told his old club, “mainly due to the nocturnal hours we kept and the fact that I was in quite a tough stage in my life personally as well as being really unsure about what it was I was trying to achieve in music.”

An openly gay man working in a very straight industry and especially with the chauvinistic connotations that harder genres like drum n bass often bring could not have been easy for Agius, but he found inspiration and support through the community at Wire through the likes of club nights and institutions like Metropolis/Dirty Disco, Subdub/Exodus, Back 2 Basics, and Mono_Cult as he moved from Drum n Bass into 4/4 House music.

“Mono_Cult have a real special place in my heart, they took a complete chance on me way back at the start and have really supported me all this time,” says Agius in Wired. “I still remember Paul Woolford messaging me on twitter all those years ago seeing if I wanted to go for a coffee. We ended up back at his studio chatting for hours, he even gave me a midi keyboard as I was too poor to buy one, we’ve been friends ever since.”

The most significant shift in Agius career would happen in 2010 however when he and Kennedy released “Your Words Matter / More Than You Know” as Ramadanman & Midland. “I was just listening to 4/4, anything sub 140”, he told Resident Advisor in an interview from 2011. “Moderat’s album was pretty instrumental in my shift, then I went to stay with Ramadanman [at his folks’ house in late summer 2009] and we made ‘Your Words Matter.’ I’d always liked that speed and…it just felt right.”

Released on will Saul’s AUS music, “Your Words Matter” and “More Than You Know” were two pristine Tech-House arrangements that offered something more in the lower end of the spectrum, borrowed from the likes of dubstep and drum n bass. It set a tone for Midland’s productions to come with more releases on AUS garnering the attention of a new burgeoning UK scene sobering up from the heady era of dubstep, that had lost its way somewhere over the atlantic.  

Midland tracks like “Trace” became dance floor anthems in the UK and very soon beyond with Agius’ music finding a unique sonic identity in the larger canon of House music. Sweltering bass-lines and razor sharp productions made lasting impressions on the dance floor. “For me, when you’re making music, you get to a stage in the song where it’s cool; it’s working, but unless I really get that feeling in my chest, that hairs-standing-on-end feeling, then I’m not really achieving my goal,” Agius told Resident Advisor about his musical process.

It’s that philosophy that would eventually also inform “Final Credits”, a track that Agius would go back to time and time again in the studio before releasing it on his regraded sub-label, cementing his legacy as a producer indefinitely.

But for many it’s a DJ that Midland would ultimately make his mark. An avid music enthusiast, whose selections span the globe and and history of music, Agius as Midland has some innate sympathy with his audience when it comes to DJing. Painstakingly arranging sets around the environment and context he is always striving for a set where you “feel that you’re part of the crowd” according to the between the beats documentary. When it feels like “the music is picking you and it’s a collaborative process between you and the crowd,” that’s the moments he’s after as a DJ.

In 2018, he’s stopped incorporating “Final Credits” in to his sets, and although he is “very happy” with the success of that record he doesn’t believe it should define him. Records like “Trace” and “Blush pain”t a very different picture to “Final Credits” and although there is veritable sound at the core of all his releases, they are composed of fleeting references and influences that span an extensive musical identity. From House to Disco and even his early afro influences, Midland is a distinct musical entity in electronic music today.

*Midland plays Frædag invites Midland this Friday. 

The Cut with Filter Musikk

“A mind-bending animated video”…. “After grinding his teeth with a solid 20-ish EPs” …. “a series of minatres that harness the many shadows this legendary act”… “Oozing style.”

Nobody should be oozing anything really and that guy should ease up on the drugs if he’s grinding his teeth through 20 EPs. We don’t need an email to tell us what music to listen to, we’ve got a guy for that.  

Roland Lifjell spends six days a week at Filter Musikk, his office is literally built from walls of records, which on occasion, if he’s feeling particularly good -spirited, spill out onto the shop floor at Filter Musikk. Boxes upon boxes stack up like a paper mache fortress of solitude. We don’t know where he sleeps, but rumour has it that his bedroom is a music studio, his bed lamp is a vu meter, his sheets are made from old speaker cables, his pillow is a subwoofer  and he survives on a combination of instant coffee and sub audio frequencies transmitted from the afterlife by Sun Ra’s ghost.

On special occasion he parlays these frequencies into a DJ set, but his prime conduit remains the immense record collection that constitutes Filter Musikk. Every week he annexes a corner of his record hovel bat cave for new arrivals from the labels and producers that do a little more making music and a little less sending emails. These records are the last fragments of the true underground.

Some say Filter Musikk incites riots, while others proclaim Roland Lifjell is musical necromancer that will insnair a listener in a dangerous capitalist routine, buying music in a outdated format every week to no-end at all except self-indulgence. There are those that call him an immortal, the result of a chemical spill at a record plant.  All we know is he’s called the…

No… no… we’re not doing that.

Welcome to the cut with Filter Musikk where we’re always grinding our teeth on the latest mind bending series of minatres oozing into Filter Musikk, whatever that means.

Linkwood – Fresh Gildans (Firecracker) 12″ Limited Edition

One of our favourite House acts on one of our favourite labels. Nick Moore’s Linkwood alias and side project, Linkwood family has been a tour de force on Lindsay Todd’s Firecracker since EP1. As Linkwood, Moore pieces together obscure samples with homemade beats in music that steps.

On “Fresh Gildans” he does more of the same with three exquisite House tracks, housed in some exquisite packaging, hand-crafted by Lindsay Todd. The extensive opener hits you right in the gut with a meaty electro kick, before a breezy west coast synth steps into focus. Ghostly voices project from the ether while an erratic bubbling synth tries to compose itself between the rhythms only to break down and fall apart at each turn of phrase.

It’s a hi-fi quencher, and it is carried over on “Another late Night”, while the ambient sparkling of  Solar Panel, rightly takes its position on the hallowed B2 spot. It’s a tough House release from one of the best labels out there today, both sonically and visually.

 

The Burrell Connection – Hyper/Orbit (Craigie Knowes) 12″

What is the burrell connection? Is it somehow related to House legends, Rheji and Ronaldo Burrell? Is this the Burrell brother from another mother?  There’s a very prominent UK sound to the Burrell Connection that belies any… uhm Burrell connection.

The House maverick, who we believe hails from Scotland, has got a certain rough-and-ready approach and broodiness to his sound that combines just the amount of fear and body for a House track to survive on some of the more alternative dance floors.

Violently swinging elbows through on “Hyper/Orbit” through breakbeat arrangements dripping with in the sweltering psychedelica of acid loops and sub-bass encounters of a dub kind, The Burrell Connection delivers four tracks that show absolutely no exercise in restraint.

“Hyper/Orbit” has got that indefinable UK house thing, that looks right past you into the depths of hell, like it’s seen some shit that you couldn’t even begin to comprehend. Channeling something of that UK bass culture into House, the Burrell Connection is a potent weapon, one that needs to be played on that Funktion One system downstairs.

 

Kasper Marott – Keflavik EP (Seilscheibenpfeiler) 12″

After the intensity of the Burrell Connection, we need a moment and this release from Danish producer Kasper Marott has all the right ingredients. The A-side and the title track of this release has a very charming melodic synth that borders on the fringes of trance, without getting too cheesy. At rack that doesn’t take itself too seriously it puts a smile on your face and a bounce in your step.

There’s a Lo-Fi electro vibe to the entire record and in the more solemn moments of “Microworld” and “Megatu” it’s more refined in our opinion. While Keflavik entices you to lean  into the record, the B-side is the real allure of Keflavik. Synth lines sparkle at the very top end like a xylophone made from glass, with a very amiable disposition playing through the entire record. It’s impossible to not like this record.

 

André Bratten – Lim / Recreation 26B (Smalltown Supersound) 12″

What was supposed to be a record a month through 2017, is now a trilogy in its second episode and a third slated for when Smalltown Supersound and André feel like it – apparently November 30th. Like “Un / Pax Americana” this one is a limited release with no re-issues planned. Although if you missed out on the last one, we believe Roland might have a copy or two still floating about.

“The downbeat, left-field offering demonstrates a continuation of the Norwegian producer’s brilliance, which seems to recognise the importance of his skraggle-house predecessors whilst simultaneously taking on new territory in terms of his own production and sound.” Whatever Bleep, this is just André Bratten living out his deepest Aphex Twin,fantasies, and that’s a good thing; We don’t want him wallowing in the mundane.

We’ll steer clear of the usual clichés that usually accompany this style of club music, terms like mind-bending. From the electro-acid of “Lim” to the fast-paced ghoulish synth work of “Recreation 26B”, Bratten actually maneuvers this release towards the centre from left-field, in a spot where it’s not completely impossible to fit it into a DJ set. The bold raucous Techno “Math ilium Ion” are but a distant memory, and there are absolutely no traces left of the Disco Tech of “Be a man You ant”, and through these last two releases, it’s the most consistent we’ve found André Bratten to ever be. That’s until the next album, at least.

We’re big fans of Mr. Bratten so we’ll jump on any release, but these last two 12 inches from Smalltown Supersound does seem to have softened the producers sound a little, not quite to the more misty-eyed extent of his albums, but certainly to a point where it’s more approachable for the uninitiated listener. Something just seems to have cliqued for us across these two releases and we look forward to last of the trilogy later this month.

 

L.B. Dub Corp – Roar (Stroboscopic Artefacts) 10″

It doesn’t quite “roar” as much as it growls, but then again, Luke Slater’s releases as LB Dub Corp has always kind of snarled at you. Whereas his other aliases like Luke Slater and Planetary Assault systems are generally traditional Detroit takes on Techno, L.B Dub Corp is a little more unusual and it’s no surprise that it finds itself on Stroboscopic Artefacts today, a label known for its more opaque future vision of Techno.


Repetitive loops that stubbornly meander without much evolution don’t often make for wholly interesting music, but Mr. Slater finds some innovative ways to make it still sound progressive. Kick drums distorting and contorting under their own weight and organic rhythms born from some cyborg tribe, strike a transcending ritual mood on this record that pulls the fabric of time out from underneath you.

Even as you try to analyse the very static loops contained on a track like “Hard Wax”, it comes to an abrupt end in which you’ve lost seven minutes of your life without realising it. The repetitive nature of the music, immerses you completely, repeating like a mantra that coaxes the listener over to a higher plane.

 

*Filter Musikk is back at Jæger on the 23rd of November with MANOID and Ben Sims and Frædag. 

Album of the week: Marquis Hawkes – The Marquis of Hawkes

Marquis Hawkes is a beguiling figure in contemporary House and Techno. Earnestly dedicated to his craft as a DJ and producer, his music is a testament to the legacy of House and Techno established in the spirit of Chicago and Detroit all those years ago. There’s an organic evolution to the music he makes as Marquis Hawkes specifically from those first seeds planted through the likes of Frankie Knuckles.

He approaches House music like an artisan, using the raw materials to craft something simple and ornate from a mere few essential parts, and it never comes as anything pretentious or overly indulgent – it’s House music as it’s always intended to be, but for a contemporary ear, syphoning everything from Garage to Electro through the artist.

On his second LP, The Marquis of Hawkes he doesn’t mess with perfection and like his debut, “Social Housing”, merely adapts his sound to the LP format with more vocals, strings and pads softening the tracks for their extended play purposes. It’s an album you can listen to from start to finish and not merely a collection of dance floor cuts.

There’s a toughness to Marquis Hawkes’ music that he projects through bold kicks and fuzzy Juno bass lines, laying there on the surface like the calloused skin of a metal worker’s hands. His music is made up of very little more than these elements on this LP, and the odd pad, or synthesised string never stays for too long before it returns to these core parts.

Marquis Hawkes’ ability to channel a vocal into this formula is unmatched in House music today, and whether he’s using an obscure sample or parlaying the services of Jamie Lidell and Ursula Rocker on the mic on the LP, he adds a dimension to his music that is perfectly suited for this listening experience.

From the high-energy disco-stomper of “We should be free”, featuring the vocals of the aforementioned Lidell to the bicep bulging acid beat of “Tough Love”, Marquis Hawkes covers all corners of the dance floor on this one.

There’s a stifling energy that pulses through the entire album, transporting you to dark a smoke-filled hovel strewn with all the colours of a modern-day club room. There’s a little something here for everybody, from Garage to Disco and of course House, with the artist doing away with any eccentricities that might cloud the purpose of the record. It’s an album of Marquis Hawkes doing what he does best… making bold, potent House music.

 

Let it Simmer with the Hubbabubbaklubb

Between the burbling of the pots and pans on cooking shows playing in the background of various hubbabubbaklubb recording sessions, there’s one phrase that stuck with the band like a mantra. “It’s something that OP (Ollis Hergum) used to say, and that’s let it simmer” explains Morten Skjæveland,  when he and Ollis Hegrum sit down for an interview on frosty evening in October. Let it simmer has since become a “hubba” saying. “We work until it’s done,” Ollis told an impatient Morten time and time again  “and if it’s only in ten years time, so be it”. It would be, and even though “it was almost ten years,” in the autumn of 2018 hubbabubbaklubb’s debut LP, drømmen drømmerne drømmer finally arrived into the world.

Like a mature cheese, an aged wine or a braised roast, if you let things simmer long enough, it gives it time to bring those intricate complexities in their fabric to the surface and that has been the ethos that has been the foundation of the hubbabubbaklubb philosophy. “We’ve been talking about this album for so long” says Morten. “You can like it or dislike it, but you have to acknowledge that there are layers there.” drømmen drømmerne drømmer has never been about waiting until “it’s perfect”  continues Morten but “more like: let’s see what else shows up.”

Some five years on since they released their first single “Mopedbart” everything that could have been accomplished on a debut LP has been for hubbabubbaklub and as we delve further into the dense haluccianary fabric of hubbabubbaklubb, further than any time we’ve done before, layer upon layer is peeled back till we’re at the big bang moment of it all, where a group of close friends get together for some impromptu art sessions, a band emerges and an album is born.

A time immemorial

The origins of the hubbabubbaklubb are as elusive as their music, but Ollis insists “hubbabubbaklubb as we now know it, didn’t happen until Mopedbart, what happened before then doesn’t really matter.” Mopedbart, which was released in 2012 via Australian record label Death Strobe Records, was the first release that featured the name hubbabubbaklubb, made up at that time of Morten Skjæveland, Ollis Hegrum (Olefonken), Jonas Wasa (Joystick Jay), Pål Rokseth (Gundelach) and André Bratten.

Are you Oslo’s first supergroup?

“Maybe” says Ollis with an expressive burst of laughter, “doing your own stuff, is healthy. ”

All accomplished individual artists, it was on Mopedbart where they all first clicked as a band. Originally, a fast-paced track the only thing that was carried over to its final version was the lyric “Høyfart med Mopedbart,” a lyric that had been knocking about since Ollis’ school days when he and Andre first started making music together. The track was initially recorded on a whim, when the gang went to Pål’s house to pick up some equipment for a recording session.

“We discovered he was home alone,“ says Ollis. “So we were like shouldn’t we just be here instead.” Pål’s “old house in farm country” set the perfect tone for Mopedbart. They were going for a “1979 disco vibe” from the start and the setting “helped with that vibe”. Between “drinking and having fun” André, Pål, Ollis, Jonas and Morten recorded some music.

The result was Mopedbart and an “even older” track called Lille Svøte Svanse which channeled that 1979 Disco vibe into a contemporary stepper with Morten’s abstract nostalgia coursing through the lyrics.  On the other side of the record, a funky synth bass and a bouncing beat hops over a the crystal clear, harmonic arrangement of Mopedbart and Morten’s caricature of devil-may-care James Dean cliché on a scooter set an evocative and infectious tone through that song.

Jonas sealed the deal with Andy Webb over at Death Strobe Records after releasing a couple of Disco edits on the sister label, Disco Delicious. Mopedbart became a local and international sensation with Bill Brewster picking up the release early for his DJ History blog and with the track receiving the top honours in the furtive 50 in 2013 selected by the DJ History readers.

The plot thickens

Was Mopedbart ever intended to be an album track?

“I didn’t even think it was going to be a single”, says Ollis hastily. After Mopedbart, and emboldened by the success of the track, they considered ; “next easter let’s do the same, but this time it would be more planned.”

They went back to Pål’s house for the first jamming sessions, and the first track that emerged was an early version of Tommer Lommer which Ollis says “sounds way different to what it sounds like now” on the album. Rumour also has it that a really rough, early version of Et Annet Sted also emerged during this session, but this has been validated. But back to the story. Feeling “more pressured” to deliver a follow up to Mopedbart, and with every member having their own commitments, impromptu jam sessions at Pål’s house wouldn’t suffice. They started taking “hubba vacations: A long weekender where we come together cook some nice food, and do a hubba weekend“ on various retreats to mountain- and seaside cabins around Scandinavia.

This is how the album “came together over the years”, and you can hear echoes of it in the lyrics for Fjellet. “På vei opp till høye fjellet,” sings Morten. “Stjerner lyser opp i mørket. Alene under himmelhvelvet.” Those lyrics came to Morten “in the car on the way up” to his mountain cabin and the mood is perceptible in the quietude of the softly strumming guitar and Morten’s lonesome vocal.

Everything would fall into place when Pål found the band a disused sound room in a film studio called filmparken på Jar. “That’s where we made the bulk of the album,” explains Ollis. It was a space they could call their own, a place where they could just hang out and “see what happens” as Morten puts it.

“We really took our time with it” remembers Ollis and as much as it was a space for hubbabubbaklubb, it was also a place where they could collaborate with other artists, who in turn would make their own invisible imprints on the eventual record.

With the money they “earned  from various concerts” they bought a “big mixer” and they were on track to record the rest of an album, but then suddenly, and without warning, they found themselves on the curb, and their hopes dashed at finishing the album.

A slim chance

“We were thrown out of the studio because there was too much drinking and stuff,” recounts Ollis and without the studio, the band were left with a portion of an album and nowhere to record the rest. “That’s really important to understand;” says Morten “it wasn’t a given that this album would see the light of day, there was a 50/50 chance that it was going to manifest itself.”

Ollis recalls when that moment came that they had to leave Jar, “that was the point we thought hubbabubba was dead.”

“That set a damper and it was not the ideal way to go our separate ways.” The band retreated into their individual projects and the album was shelved, but the work they’d done for the album, simmered nonetheless and in Ollis words they thought; “it would be a shame if this didn’t see the light of day”.He turned to the rest band with a proposal: “I told the boys I would like to finish the album but I’m not going to do it for free.” He would take the mixer in payment and it became the “dangling carrot” that he required to finish the album.

The original demo recordings were just that, demos and they were “pretty far off”. Opening up old projects, Ollis had found that some much needed maintenance was required. Pieces of inane conversations coming in and out of recordings where they had forgotten microphones in the room and similar amateur moments, had set him a big task to get the LP done. It required Ollis and the band to “record a lot of stuff”. Pål’s brother, Ole Rokseth was inducted into the band to play bass when André Bratten was committed to his solo project and even the Rokseth patriarch, Stein literally lent a helping hand with some hand percussion. People like Jonas Raabe would be brought into the recording process too and the album turned into something of a family affair for the band.

Over time the tracks matured as pieces came in and arrangements were finalised, but it was a mammoth task taking the original sketches and turning it into the album. “I did my masters degree back… I can’t remember when…” says Morten “and I always said to OP, the album was his master’s degree, but then I handed that shit in and he was still working on the album.” The “life project” finally came together after the best part of a decade.

Morten had floated the title “drømmen drommerne drømmer “at some point early during this process as a shortened version of an Eden Ahbez lyric on the song Full Moon. “It ends with the line dream the dream that dreamers dream. I felt it was really strong and it was really funny to say the same word over and over again.” It’s a song they would come back to a lot during the whole process but only Morten and Ollis knew the title at first. “I was afraid that people would get tired of it,” explains Morten, but yet it still lends an infectious rhythm to the start of the LP that carries through to the music and the artwork.

Unpacking the layers

By the time you reached Den Hvite By, some 9 tracks in an entire world has opened up to the listener. From the familiar singles Tommer Lommer, Mopedbart and Eddie Suzanne, hubbabubbaklubb transport you through the kodak moments of the bands career laid out like the collage on the inner sleeves of the record.

Den Hvite By’s afrocentric qualities mimic Fela Kuti, shoehorning Jonas’ love for the Western African music in to a space-aged Norwegian dialect. “We almost ended up in another world, not afrobeat anymore,”  remembers Morten of the recording process and one of the “most magical” moments of the hubbabubbaklubb history.

One of the many snapshots through the career of the hubbabubbaklubb, Den Hvite By forms part of an immense tapestry of music that constitutes drømmen drømmerne drømmer. There’s an undeniable connection to the songs, and whether it creates part of a larger narrative is up to the listener, but it is there to be explored, suggests Morten.

Morten often makes references to the title, especially in the songs Konkylie and Fjellet, but the tracks live beyond the album, as lyrics float around in a dreamscape, untethered to any tangible reality.

There’s a charming nostalgia to hubbabubbaklubb from the music to lyrics but especially the lyrics. Morten has a way of sculpting stories that seem to arrive like an intangible memory, emphasised by his wispy alto bordering on falsetto. His words and voice fall like a shared memory projected from cathode television screen.

In hubbabubbaklub there’s a purpose to all this. “Early on when I started writing lyrics I realised I had to drop all modern references”, says Morten, and that has also helped solidify some kind of symbioses between the lyrics and the music. “When they (the band) dig up old synthesisers and sounds from the past, it’s my duty to humbly mirror that with the choice of words.”

And does the music reflect the lyrics?

“Definitely,” says Ollis and cites Fjellet as an example.

The acoustic guitar track is the furthest they step back from synthesisers and electronic instruments, with a folksy John Denver kind of song about getting back in to nature. It might have been inspired by that epoch in music but it’s not stuck in that era.

Ollis tells me that hubbabubbaklubb would have a track like that and Den Hvite by “lying around for two or three years”, and would often go back to change it, letting it simmer to evolve and grow with the band where at some point it’s reached the best version of itself. “Hopefully that’s the benefit of talking such a long time,” says Ollis “not getting stuck in an era.”  

There are influences too, but besides the obvious references to Yellow Submarine, Fela Kuti and  Eden Ahbez, Ollis is not willing to divulge anymore of them. Perhaps it would evoke a memory of a listener, but they don’t think it’s the band’s place to imply anything concrete, always getting back to the dream and dreamer.  

In a recent interview they were asked who are the dreamers and what are those dreams, and it’s something they’ve been mulling over by the time we get to our interview. It’s “a very vivid picture of younger times and easier times, which for me at least that are what dreams are in a way” says Ollis. For Morten “the dreamers could be young, adventurous people” too striving for that imperceptible perfect version of itself, but ultimately he proffers; “you tell me?”

All the trappings of a timeless classic

So what happens next, how do you follow it up?  

“At this point it’s just really nice to see people enjoying it and liking it. Hopefully there will be a couple of vacations,” says Ollis like the weight of the world has just been lifted off his shoulders. Morten is just hoping to ”enjoy this caramel, because it’s been such a long time coming. We are childhood friends and it’s a friendship manifesting itself into this physical thing.”

“That’s the type of guys we were,” continues Morten.” while the other guys came together and watched football, we came together, and we drew. We sat at Wasa’s house and made paintings. Just playing around, with no intention of it becoming a big piece, just the fun of it.” And that philosophy has coursed through the very fibre of hubbabubbaklubb since the beginning and is now physically imprinted on vinyl as drømmen drømmerne drømmer.

Ollis is surprised that he is still able to listen to the album now that it’s out. Usually when he finishes a record “it’s everybody else’s” when it’s done, but on this occasion he keeps coming back to it; that’s until Mopedbart comes on.

“I skip that one” he says and Morten winces at the thought of it. There was some serious discussion in the band about whether that song was going to make it on the album. Morten will at least listen to it, because he likes “to hear (the album) from start to finish with all the transitions”, but it’s a track that divides opinion within the band. in a recent Q&A session with Jonas Wasa he said “I’m so tired of that fucking  song,” and Ollis feels he has to defend it. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t like the song” says Ollis, “It’s just form a different era.” It’s still the band’s biggest hit and whenever they play it in a set or live Ollis still finds it “crazy” that “everyone sings along.”

For the listener at least it frames the album perfectly, it’s the glue that holds it all together at the conceptual genesis of it all, forming an integral part of the hubbabubbaklubb narrative that traces a red line through the entire album.    

It’s not merely an album of Mopedbart in various other forms but rather an intense and enveloping experience from start to finish that transports you the that ineffable dream that hubbabubbaklubb have succeeded in creating on this album. All that’s left to do in hubbabubbaklubb’s opinion is to “put on some headphones, lean back and dream that dream.”

 

*drømmen drømmerne drømmer is out now and you can pick up a copy at Filter Musikk. 

*Olefonken is back this Friday in is usual residency slot at Frædag invites Âme and Morten will be back at Jæger for Skranglejazz x Frædag presents Gerd Janson and Prins Thomas on the 30th on November.  

Espen T. Hangård – Primær

In the aptly titled “Primær” Espen Hangårdmakes his debut in electronic music, turning his resources from the world of Metal to the alien distant planet of electronica for a punchy and slinky Electro album. Trading in his guitar and microphone for synthesisers and drum machines, after a lifetime of colluding with the dark forces in doom and trash metal bands of nefarious sorts, he makes his debut as a producer with a brooding and mesmerising take on the DIY electronic music genres.

Although Espen T. Hangård is possibly best known for his work as the lead singer and vocalist for NoPlaceToHide, he has been known to dable with the dark arts of electronic music, like that of  his atmospheric doom metal side- project like Altaar.

“Primær” is an entire world away from any of Hangård’s previous musical works however, as a beat-orientated Electro LP,that yields some interesting curiosities, undoubtedly informed by his own musical history and experiences. The extended repetitive loop of “Es ist” takes the listener on an evocative journey through a  breakfast  TV aerobics workout after the short opener “16” Jupiter” to stake its claim in a late eighties musical palette.

Incisive percussive rhythms deliver bruising body blows as they pummel their way through the centre of track with a 303 bass line warbling away in the foreground with dynamic flair. This opening track deceives however, because beyond “Es Ist” we find  more fuller arrangements than the stark opener.

Brooding synthesisers romanticising about melodic synth wave hooks, prance above ferocious gnarling bass-lines and skipping break-beats. Somewhere between DMX Krew and Depeche Mode,  Espen T Hangård’s music lives. Each track makes its own particular statement and besides “Es Ist” they only stay long enough to make their mark and then hand it over to the next. The soundscapes are lifted straight off the eighties program patch these synthesisers arrived with, while the beats run through systematic patterns like an old binary computer. It’s in the way Hangård combines them in which they find that ineffable charm.

“Turbo” and “Left Hand Pad” are some of the more memorable moments on the record and are very much composed like songs with melodies that require something a little more than one note. Arranged through distinct phases, Hangård applies some craft to the electronic domain on “Primær” and the result is an album that lasts beyond a functional design or the instant moment. These and the small imperfections Hangård allows to linger on from the recording process, gives “Primær” a particular hand-crafted sound that does away with any posturing. It’s laid bare for the listener to take from it what s/he will.

Primær doesn’t break any new ground nor does it try to assimilate genres in tactless promiscuous ways in order to consolidate the artists other musical projects. It’s just a good solid electro album from somebody that has been a long time fan of electronic music.

Having it all with Ra-Shidi

Olivia Ra-Shidi has gone from learning to mix to playing a stage at Insomnia festival in less than eighteen months. A precocious talent, the young Ra-Shidi has an innate musical ability, fusing organic contrapuntal rhythms with vintage synthesisers in exotic mixes forged from chimerical musical landscapes.

She’s a resident and a booker for Circa and Storgate Camping (Oslo Camping’s northern counterpart) in Tromsø. Between booking these venues and playing, Ra-Shidi has become a dominant force in the arctic city as one of the next generation of DJs breaking through from Norway’s first electronic music city, where Bjørn Torske, Mental Overdrive, Biosphere and Rune Lindbæk first staked their claim.  

Under the sage guidance of her mentor Charlotte Bendiks, Ra-Shidi has joined the ranks of these legendary figures and bears the torch of their legacy for contemporary audiences.    

She has cultivated a unique sound as a DJ, going from the “minimal Techno” of her early sets to the more eclectic sets we hear from her today. It’s a sound she says that she “started figuring out” after playing Oslo a couple times. Noticing “a huge difference between the audiences in Tromsø” and those of Oslo, Ra-Shidi has adapted her music accordingly with that inherent, acute sense of a DJ it takes some people years to refine.

She’s made phenomenal strides as a DJ in mere months, and very rarely takes a break from music. “You don’t have a day off in a life where you love what you do”, she tells me over a telephone call on the Monday after her Insomnia appearance. It’s her day off, but she’s put some time aside for us to field some questions about her musical history and the scene in Tromsø ahead of her next appearance at Jæger as part of the Oslo world line-up.

How was Insomnia?

I was part of the line-up through a program called ‘Cloud Exit’. DJ and producers from northern Norway could send in mixes or productions of their own, and there would be an external jury, choosing the four people to be part of the lineup. I was one of those four and it was interesting. You also get a mentor and get to be promoted through Insomnia and their festival partners. It is a very huge opportunity for up-and-coming artists.

Who are some of the festival partners?

Sónar, Barcelona and Mutek. They are part of the Shape Platform. They have a lot of huge festivals as well as small underground festivals.

I imagine Insomnia would be a bigger crowd from what you’ve been used to playing up until now?

Yes, but it’s also a safer crowd, because I’m from Tromsø. I’ve gone to Insomnia every single year since I started clubbing. I was a bit nervous because I was standing on an actual stage, but the crowd was people I’d met every single year at Insomnia, so I just felt really safe and it felt like I was home.

Photo by Mats Gangvik

Ra-Shidi grew up to the music of “Mental Overdrive and Bjørn Torske”, dancing to the music her older sisters would bring home. A mere child at the time, she wouldn’t quite grasp the significance of these early musical experiences until later. As she grew older, “she would finally understand these artists are from Tromsø and that they would play” in the city quite often. She would go out to places like Verdensteatret to hear these “local and international heroes” play and dance with abandonment to their electronic sounds.

As a student of classical music and various instruments through after-school activities, Ra-Shidi found a release in electronic music that had eluded her in the classical dialect. “There were so many rules to it,” she explains, “and with electronic music you could not care about the rules and do your own thing.” When she danced to electronic she ”really felt like the true me came out.”  

While some of her friends had already started DJing at that point, Ra-Shidi had remained quite impervious to a career as a DJ at first, because “I always felt it was much more difficult than it actually is.” After a few impromptu mixing sessions at house parties she was encouraged to explore DJing further and when friends noticed her impeccable musical tastes and proffered; “why don’t you play Olivia, you listen to stuff we haven’t heard before.”

With the resources of Tvibit (a local training platform for burgeoning musicians, producers and DJs, replete with studios and DJ equipment) at her disposal Ra-Shidi nurtured her own talents and found something in DJing she hadn’t really experienced with her various after school musical activities. “DJing ended up being the creative outlet that I’ve been longing for quite some time.”

Do you think the classical music training helped in terms of picking it up a bit quicker than your peers?

Definitely. From playing different classical instruments where you also counted till eight or sixteen, you already new all the rules behind music. Also the electronic music community in Tromsø is a close knit community because it’s such a small city so getting help was never hard.

What sort of music were you playing when you started?

I have not been playing for such a long time, so I can’t really say that my taste in music or style has changed very drastically. In the beginning, any genre of music as long as it has ethnic rhythms, very African and latin American vibes.

Yes I picked that up from Jæger mix too, the complex, interlacing rhythms, but also very electronic at the same time.   

Exactly. From the beginning I was not (loyal) to a genre or anything. As long as I could dance to it or feel something when I heard it, I would download it. I also mixed a lot of genres and in the beginning there was a lot of minimal tech, but that eventually ended. Now, the one thing all my tracks have in common is that they are very percussive. I like tracks that are more organic.

Is that the same thing that you played at this recent Insomnia set?

Since I started the evening, I tried to keep it more upbeat, but yeah, it was definitely the same thing. It was very percussive and you had a lot of mystic and occult tracks, with some dark sounds, but then I would also try to contrast it with some more synth heavy old-school house track. I’ve always been the kind of person that enjoys irony, doing things for the sake of it, because it kind of doesn’t fit together. I like showing people the contrast and that you don’t always need that pure dark Berghain techno set if you don’t want. Break the rules and do whatever you want.

I have so many influences so I’ve never been able to decide on what type of electronic music I generally enjoy that I want to play. Maybe I’m just being a little egotistic and I just want to do it all and have it all.

I think that is very much a Norwegian thing, DJs tend to dig deeper and from a more diverse palette than anything I’ve experienced before elsewhere.

Definitely, and also just from hearing the different sets from different people like Charlotte Bendiks, who is also my mentor for the Clouds Exit program. So many of these people would show us the diversity within the electronic music genre.

 

The Clouds exit program is very much in the tradition of Tromsø and elevating its own. Built on a “close-knit” clubbing community where it is like “having a huge house party with our friends every time you go to Circa” according to Ra-Shidi. There’s a very DIY community-based tradition in clubbing culture there, based on the idea of dugnadsånden; the communal spirit of coming together to achieve something without the need for compensation.

The thing in itself is its own reward and in that spirit the clubbing community also come together.” We know we’ve got to do things ourselves,” explains Ra-Shidi. People and club concepts like Houseboden for example exist because of this DIY infrastructure and that’s why “if you’re out clubbing in Tromsø, you see a lot of people have a certain ownership to the night” according to Ra-Shidi, “because they’ve made it happen themselves.”

The idea of dugnadsånden is also how Ra-Shidi had her start as a DJ. “I just went up to the manager at Circa and asked if I could play there, and he just said, ‘yeah sure’.” Unfortunately, Circa is coming to an end in two months, and Ra-Shidi is hoping Storgata Camping will carry the beacon for the clubbing community, with more reserved bookings but with a bigger impact to attract the larger audience to fill the dance floor.

In Tromsø, club concepts like Houseboden have started to bring in more international acts and it seems that there’s certainly more of this on the horizon as this generation of club enthusiasts takes it in their own hands. There’s a lot of pride in the the “history of Norwegian Techno and House started in Tromsø” says Ra-Shidi even with this new generation and “especially after Northern Disco lights came out.”

That’s interesting, did that make an impact even in Tromsø?

It reached out to a broader audience in the city. I think a lot of people also started listening to the older tracks and started checking out things like Beatservice records who had the Prima Norsk series. It kind of opened their eyes to Norwegian producers I guess. As for the environment in itself that didn’t change much.

In an email exchange earlier you explained that you’re moving towards production, and especially considering your background as a musician, I imagine this is something that you would like to explore. So what’s happening with respects to making music?

So far, not much. I only started playing 18 months ago. It’s gone really fast, and it didn’t really give me a chance to think about what was going to be my next step. I’ve had a lot of good conversation with Charlotte when I asked her to be my official mentor and she said; “just start playing around with and get familiar with it.” So far I’m just playing around, getting familiar with it. I don’t have any goal like putting out an EP in the next few years. I feel like something, but it’s  really hard for me to translate it in a software.

For the moment Ra-shidi is happy biding her time as a DJ, but she will almost definitely add producer in the near future to her credentials. She’s a rising star, not only in Tromsø, but in the rest of Norway too, and one to certainly look out for in the future.

Charlotte Bendiks delivers Phantasymix

Erol Alkan lures Charlotte Bendiks over to Phantasy for the label and blog’s mix series.

Our IRONI resident, Charlotte Bendiks headed over to Phantasy for their fairly young mix series and delivered an exhilarating hour of intense beats and vivid sounds for the 16th edition. “Charlotte Bendiks has become one of dance music’s most exciting and offbeat new figures” says Phantasy’s John Thorp and she showcases this in the mix with sounds that entice the listener over to the dark side. Muddy synths and off-kilter melodic arrangements show Charlotte’s moodier side in a mix that tempts the body.

Accompanying the mix is a Q&A with Charlotte  where she talks about “depressing secrets of Norwegian drinking culture, the pressure of curating the music for her Aunt’s wedding and exclusively reveals that she has been living as a ghost.” You can read that interview in full here and catch Charlotte Bendiks in our booth again in two weeks for IRONI.

House music stole my heart with Da Capo

South Africa is a House nation. For as long as House music has been around,  the southern African nation, has adopted the genre in its own unique sonic aesthetic and contributed its fair share to the further development of House music through artists like Black Coffee and Culoe de Song.

Nicodimas Sekheta Mogashoa (aka Da Capo) is the next in a long line of DJs and producers to take the sounds of House and present them in a very unique afro-centric dialect, incorporating elements from regional musical flavours like Kwaito in their sounds.

Originally from Polokwane, a city a stone’s throw away from the epicentre of House music, Johannesburg, Da Capo’s career starts in the bedroom as a self-taught producer. While Hip Hop lured a young Mogashoa over to computer music, it would through House music that he would make his mark in music. He had found an early affinity for the genre, and combining it with the rhythms of regional sounds with a deep soulful vision.

Under the sage guidance of Black Coffee and Canadian House veteran and DNH Records proprietor Nick Holder, Da Capo developed his own sonic signature in the genre. Holder provided the platform for his first record, Deeper Side, on the back of which he and long-time collaborator Punk Mbedzi launched two very successful careers and the label, Surreal Sounds.

From those first bass-heavy dub House tracks like Deep Side to the more organic sounds of his Ki Lo Fe, Da Capo’s sound is diverse and he is able to adapt to a wide range of styles. An adept remixer his remixes like Freshly Ground’s Nomthandazo, had won him many plaudits early on his career, and he caught the ear of established House artists like Louie Vega, who became early fans of his prodigious music talent.

In 2014 he released his debut LP, collaborating yet again with Punk for a compilation of tracks featuring the two label partners and mixed by Dj Swizz. Shortly after Da Capo signed to Black Coffee’s label, Soulistic music, following in the shadow of his idol to carve out his own unique imprint on the parchment of South African House music history.

We caught up with Mogashoa before his visit at Jæger as part of the Oslo World music festival.

Hello Da Capo and thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I’m curious about where your interest in House music started. Can you tell us a bit about earliest House memories and what got you started on the path of a career as a House music DJ and producer?

It all started on a high school trip where one of my friends was requested to play a mix on the bus and I heard this song Franky Boisy & Kwame – Everybody wants to rule the world. It blew my mind away that’s where I started collecting mp3s and house compilations, I was more of a hip hop producer fan and producer, but then since… well I didn’t see my vision as a rapper or producer, I fell in love with house then I started producing it. It literally stole my heart.

I know that Khasi Mp3 and the taxis were influential in bringing House music to the mainstream in South Africa, but where were you getting your music from and where did you go to listen and eventually play House music?

I grew up in that society where taxis played a huge role but I wasn’t inspired by that, my inspiration comes from a couple of friends I used to study with at high school who would talk about exclusive deep house music everyday on free periods and we would share music on Bluetooth. I wasn’t really much of a party goer because I was young at the time, I only enjoyed my space by making music alone in my room until there came a point where I had to deejay which came after years later.

You grew up in Polokwane which is quite a small town in SA standards. How do you think that affected your music as opposed to the people coming through in a bigger city like Johannesburg?

I lived in an era where the internet was very useful, so for music to reach the masses it wasn’t much of a struggle, I had fans and played in Polokwane already before I played in Johannesburg but the market is more bigger in Johannesburg because it’s the centre of all cities, for every artist to sustain their career it is the city to be.

Do you still live in Polokwane and what’s the music like coming out of that region at the moment?

I actually moved to Johannesburg haha. I think a lot of us moved there because that’s where the demand and opportunity is. And the music is quite different in Polokwane because there are new artists that have emerged and which have a different sound to what we have been making years back.

From what I’ve read about you, Black Coffee had an instrumental role in your musical education. How did you meet him and how did he help and influence you in the beginning?

Black Coffee played a huge role in a lot of upcoming musicians including me, his music had a whole dynamic shift in the Afro scene. I was inspired by the sounds to polish my production. We officially met at a gig years earlier before I joined his stable Soulistic music and from there we started sharing ideas in terms of production and deejaying as well.

 

I know Nick Holder has also played a fundamental part in your career. What were the origins of that relationship and how did he help motivate your career further?

Nick Holder is the first ever artist to recognize Da Capo, we met on social media at that time he requested we send him my music. He only heard my music the day we sent it to him then 3 days later he released my EP under his label dnh music, he pushed my music to the international market and the local market too, that’s were people recognized my artistry.

Your music has this obvious connection to South Africa, and I specifically pick up rhythms from Kwaito in a track like Kelaya. But there’s also this European and US influences ebbing through it. How much did music from outside of SA influence you?

House music that dominated in the times when I feel in love with it was international house music. It was on every compilation and to this day I recommend some of the selections as classic music, it totally played a huge role in my music career.

I grew up in South Africa and I often go back, and I’m always surprised how little people value music from the country. The DJs I know there can’t really play stuff from home. What’s your experience with playing homegrown music there?

In my experience I think they do value music from here, it’s just that there’s a variety of markets, different sub genre and people tend to like different type of music and each of them have different followers and they all appreciated it.

I was watching your Ibiza HQ mix and there you’re able to play that kind of thing. I find European audiences are more open to that sound. Do you adapt your set playing in Europe as opposed to South Africa?

To be honest it’s very hard to adapt. Europe, it’s a very open market and SA is not so open, but you have to have followers and places that admire your craft, that’s when you can jam to whatever you like.

What are some of your favourite places to play back home?

Kitcheners bar (Braamfontein), Republic of 94 (Braamfontein), 033 lifestyle (Pietermaritzburg), Black coffee Block Party ( Newtown), Spring fiesta (Boksburg).

You‘re also part of the label, Surreal Sounds with Katlego Swizz. Can you tell us a bit more about the origins of the label and some of the ideas behind it?

Surreal sounds was a label formally formed by myself and Punk Mbedzi then we included acts such as Katlego Swizz to run management and at a later stage we decided to do a joint venture with Soul Candi records, until there came a point we parted ways and we all ventured in new careers and visions.

 

Is there anything on the Da Capo music front that you’re eager to share with us?

I’m currently working on the Indigo Child part 2 and unleashing a beast within Da Capo which is Aqautone dropping an EP early 2019.

 

The cut with Filter Musikk

Let’s take you on a skewed trip down memory lane, from a time when the record store towered above the skyline like a grail-shaped beacon of light for the nerdy music enthusiast. A time when anonymous DJs played cumbersome plastic discs to an army of youths dancing in a parking lot. We’re assimilating a hazy past lived through youtube channels and bargain-bin finds in thrift stores through contemporary music; piecing together an abstract narrative like a Terry Gilliam film.

This week on the cut with Filter Musikk we’re romanticising the good ole days through a pair of Bootsy Collins’ rose tinted glass, cursed with a dangerous cocktail of the the Jedi mind-trick and Ron L Hubbard’s Dianetics. Picking through the latest arrivals at Filter Musikk this week, we’ve found a handful of records that conjure a very tangible past for us, memories that we’ve adopted as our own from some distant collective memory that we’ve completely misremembered.

On this wistful Wednesday we’ve got some selective nostalgia with Roland Lifjell as we look for some intangible connection to the past through new music. We’ll make unsubstantiated claims about refutable links to electronic music’s time immemorial, and look to the recent records offering some wispy connection to the past. 

 

Marius Circus – I Feel Space (In The Garden) 12″

From viral youtube video to one of the best selling records of the season. Unless you’ve been avoiding social media for fear of being coerced into reading some “fake” news, you would have seen Marius Circus’ live interpretation of the Lindstrøm classic and unofficial ode to Giorgio Moroder, “I feel space”.

It’s ok, Lindstrøm is cool with it and gave Marius Circus permission to post the video, who somehow also then got the rights to publish the version via his Secret Garden imprint.  And if that wasn’t enough, he then roped in Andrew Weatherall into the equation with a remix of the new version and we’re left typing out emojis where words have failed us.

Marius Circus has pulled a rabbit from a hat with this 12”, framing the Lindstrøm classic in a new light for a new generation. In his homage of an homage, Marius Circus delivers a punchy, bright version of “I feel Space” that pays some due respect to the original and with a reverend touch, moving it from one pedestal to the next. His delicate work with the track, laminates the melodic reverie of the original in a glossy finish.

Andrew Weatherall releases it again from its plastic sheath and scuffs it up with a size ten doc martin pounding on a breathy kick. Taking Circus’ pristine work and clumsily handling it with a child’s impatience, Weatherall’s muggy interpretation would be more fitting under the title “I feel trapped” , giving us a record with two very distinct tracks on it.  

 

Bell-Towers – My Body Is A Temple (Unknown To The Unknown) 12″

Like that video of the early raver kids dancing to some inaudible sounds projected from some ephemeral fane long after the party is over, Bell Towers channel some obscure sounds from disparate corners in their 12” for Unknown to the Unknown, ”My Body is a Temple”. There’s a hint of the macarena in that synthesised latin percussion that introduces the track, which falls to the background as various retro synths course their way through the arrangement.

It’s a downtempo synth-House track with all the playfulness and irony that we’ve come to expect from the UTTU  label. Remixes from Bell Towers and Andras give us a couple of stripped down, sleek remixes of the original, but it’s the original that maintains the allure, with just the right amount of selective nostalgia to lure the stalwarts, while giving the progeny something to insta-snap about on their handy.  

 

Krikor – Pacific Alley In Dub (L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems)) 12″

Krikor Kouchian’s 2017 album Pacific Alley was one of the most memorable albums of that year. Wielding an army of vintage synthesizers like Zelda’s sword, the French producer carved out 11 tracks of wistful sonic adventures that put you in the 8-bit drivers seat of Out Run, cruising PH1  with “the Dude” as your driving companion.

The album was perfect, it wanted for nothing, but if you were going to do a remix version of it, hell why not do a dub version. It’s like “the Dude” stepped in through the John Malkovich wormhole. If you’re going to mess with perfection you might as well go abstract with it. We’re glad Kouchian left Niños Matadores perfectly untouched, but tracks like “White Snow”, “Onda Vaselina” and  “Hermanos Cerdo” do well in dub. Accentuating the heady, unhurried style of Kouchian’s music the dub treatment adds a new more dance floor orientated dimension to the tracks, without losing the eccentric vibe he cultivates on the originals.

 

Volruptus – Alien Agenda (bbbbbb) 12″

The Icelandic rave alien makes returns to his home planet on Bjarki’s bbbbbbb after a sojourn on Nina Kraviz’s Trip. Lysergic bass-lines drip from intemperate beat arrangements in a sound that Volruptus has claimed ownership over on three releases to date. Using the TB-303 like a talkbox to make contact with other planets, Volruptus sends them afloat on a steady beam of raunchy electro beats at death defying speeds through the galaxy, and on this release he’s held nothing back.

Nothing on this release gets quite as close to the appeal of alien transmission on the first release, but the Icelandic artist is nothing if not determined, and you better strap in for “Misanthropy (Dark Stöff) V1 M1”, that one will eat you alive.

Putting up a slender grey finger to the musical establishment and common decency, “Misanthropy (Dark Stöff) V1 M1” takes off at 180 BPM and propels you into the next dimension, to the absolute limits of where a kick drum and an acid bass-line can take music, as it starts coming apart at the seems.

 

Giant Swan – Whities 016 (Whities) 12″

I, for one am happy that Techno is going into this direction again. Acts like Giant Swan and O/H from last week have taken up the call from the likes of Broken English Club, Silent Servant and Regis as they return to the raunchy sounds of early European traditions from the eighties and nineties.

Distorting synthesised communique with hell take great big chunks out of the atmosphere, while mammoth kick drums and percussion punch large holes through body music arrangements. Channeling that sound and punk attitude from the likes of Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb into a contemporary dialect, Giant Swans are one the most exciting groups currently active in Techno.

We find the UK artist (Robin Stewart) on Nic Tasker’s Whities with three tracks that take no prisoners and gives no quarter, bricking up walls of sound, only to break it all down again with juggernaut beats. It’s a malicious, bear-knuckled sound,t tamed in the halftime rhythms they favour over the relentless pummeling of a four-four distorted kick.

Giant Swan takes some of the best elements of past versions of Techno and assemble tracks by throwing everything against a wall to see what sticks, and the result is a crunchy DIY music that’s instantly gratifying and never retreats into obvious a morphisms.

 

Album of the week: Neneh Cherry – Broken Politics

In a world increasingly dominated by politics, Neneh Cherry has decided to negate the current angry rhetoric, retreating from the choir of the  disenfranchised, the forgotten and the partisan, in an introspective album that approaches the eternal “broken politics” of our society in a poetic way. As Joe Muggs explained in his review of the album for Bandcamp, “Neneh Cherry’s very presence is a political act” and since 1989’s debut album “Raw Like Sushi” she’s been making formidable political statements through her music.

Falling in with a punk crowd when she first moved to the UK from Sweden, Cherry found inspiration form the likes of Viv Albertine and Ari Up (she would later perform with the slits too) and channeled the raw energy of punk into a popular format assisted by the future trip-hop beats of Cameron McVey, who would later go on to create Massive Attack and take Cherry’s hand in marriage.

Ever since Raw Sushi, Neneh Cherry’s dusty beats and singular voice has left reserved, but dominant imprints on the musical landscape. “Homebrew” and “Man” followed in the wake of “Raw like Sushi” before a long hiatus after  the critical success of Man. The opening track “Woman” was her answer to James Brown’s  “A Man’s World” and set a striking tone in 1996 in the era of UK Girl Power groups like the Spice Girls. (Incidentally “Woman” was released the very same month as Wannabe.) Alongside the pensive “7 seconds” with Youssou n Dour released, it made the name Neneh Cherry a household name in the late nineties.

After” Man”, Cherry receded from the limelight, working as a broadcaster and occasionally as a DJ, and performing and recording  with other musical projects throughout the years. In 2014 she returned in her eponymous role with “Blank Project”, an album she wrote with McVey and which was produced by McvVey’s 21st century counterpart Kieren Hebden, aka Four Tet.

When it was time to follow it up, Cherry turned again to Four Tet in the producer’s chair and “Broken Politics” cements a new era in  Cherry’s enigmatic recording career. It seems that their relationship in the studio matured with the nimblest touches from keys and strings padding out Cherry’s word association lyrics. Like piecing together extracts from her personal diary, Cherry  compounds all the world’s problems in a mournful soliloquy.

“Broken Politics'” lyrics touches on some very contemporary political issues from African migrants drowning at sea, to the US gun laws and feminism, pieced together like a collage from disparate outtakes in a way that echoes these prevalent issues.  It’s nothing new to a musical activist like Cherry, who has been confronting some of the very same issues in her music since the 1980’s, but on this album she gets more intimate and personal than ever. The solemn minimalist arrangements compared to “Blank Project”, gives Cherry’s vocals the space to breathe and linger with the listener.

The way Cherry’s voice and the lyrics form an intricate symbiotic relationship with the music that contrasts and emphasises with the content, is the best it’s ever been. Although her songwriting style might not be as literal as it was on “Buffalo Stance” or “Woman”, the contemplative way she strings her thoughts together as lyrics on “Broken Politics” strikes a very particular nerve that feels like the artist is bearing her most personal thoughts on these matters.

Ross From Friends – On the Web

Googling Ross from Friends…

friends.wikia.com says:

Ross Eustace Geller, Ph.D. is a fictional character from the NBC sitcom Friends, portrayed by David Schwimmer. Ross is considered by many to be the most intelligent member of the group and is noted for his goofy but lovable demeanor His relationship with Rachel Green was included in TV Guide‘s list of the best TV couples of all time, as well as Entertainment Weekly’s “30 Best ‘Will They/Won’t They?’ TV Couples”.

Ross Geller’s middle name was supposed to be Eustace? I never saw “the one with Ross’ middle name”. Here he is playing a keyboard like an ass:

Anyway this is not the Ross from friends we are we are looking for. We’re looking for Mr Felix Clary Weatherall, the UK House DJ better known by his moniker Ross From Friends. Although he shares his real name with UK electronic music royalty Andrew Weatherall, there’s no relation apparently, just like there is absolutely none with David Schwimmer’s character  rom friends.

Besides what you heard, David Schwimmer is not actually suing Weatherall for the name, but the source of his chosen DJ moniker is dubious nonetheless, and it seems Weatherall’s intent on misleading the music media.

In an Interview in XLR8R he claims:

“The reason I chose the name was because there was this TV in the studio where I was making music that had a DVD of Friends jammed in it and it was stuck on. So every time I made music, the TV show Friends was constantly playing while I was recording. If you listen carefully you can hear some of Chandler’s sarcastic quips in the background of my tracks where the mic picked it up.”

But in a clash interview he says:

“Well, funnily enough really, Ross From Friends was… We used to have these top Trump Trumps cards when I was a kid and, basically, I had all the characters from Friends on there. And it was like, you know, Rachel, Joey, Gunther etc. Stuff like that. And then, for some reason, Ross’s card said ‘Ross From Friends’ on it, rather than just ‘Ross’. And so, you know, yeah it came entirely from Top Trumps.”

And in a Ransom Note article it gets completely weird:

“My Uncle, when we were living in Dubai, began a company that acted as a middleman distribution unit for furniture from the manufacturers to the stores. In this industry, because of packing, glass objects like windows and mirrors we’re specifically difficult to ship. So each distributor had a sign that would indicate whether they sent mirrors or not. My Uncle had a sign that said ‘Sends Off Mirrors’ to indicate that his distribution plant would, in fact, send mirrors. After staring at this sign over long summers of working at the plant, I discovered that ‘Sends Off Mirrors’ is an anagram of ‘Ross From Friends’ and so it kinda stuck!

Yeah it did kinda stick, and like DJ Boring, DJ Seinfeld and DJ Windows XP, a quirky name was part and parcel of a new trend that emerged in the early part of this decade that became the phenomenon referred to as LoFi House. Here’s DJ Seinfeld explaining it what it constitutes on this very blog:

 “Lo-fi has become a catch-all term for a silly DJ name and a disco edit with some distorted hi hats.” Weatherall’s explanation of the sound is a little more wistful, focusing on dance music’s evocative past. “I do it because I’ve gained a real love for the old-school sound, where it really just sounds worn-out and knackered, and it’s got a lot of character. Everything’s very crushed and compressed.”

In addition to the sound of LoFi that it was also about the meme-like you tube videos created by random fans, videos like this one:

LoFi house was a self-perpetuating hype machine that with no real influence from the artist it dominated search engines and youtube playlists like a Skynet super-bot. Today Spotify has a LoFi playlist of their own (featuring a smiling Ross from Friends on the cover image no less) while music media outlets like Thump are left scratching their heads about the algorithm proliferating the music through the internet.

As much as LoFi House was a trend-based thing for the Internet, and a new genre for the music media to latch on to, it wasn’t and it isn’t. It’s a just a modern interpretation of an old school DIY House music which had gone by Nu Groove in the past, and is adopted today in the larger canon of House.

Ross from Friends in some ways ratified it as House this with his debut album Family Portrait. NME said “Family Portraits’ paints a vibrant and touching picture of what dance music can mean to people” in their review of the album while Pitchfork chose to interpret that in a different way with “the UK producer attempts to shake the shackles of ‘lo-fi house’ in search of a more nuanced understanding of dance-music nostalgia, but he can’t quite escape the shadow of his influences.” Whatever your opinion of the album, its impact is undeniable as one of the biggest House albums of 2018.

Even Rolling Stone magazine jumping on the bandwagon with their more-than-generous 3 and a half star review, whatever that means.

According to RA, the album “which took over two years to make, was inspired by a trip Weatherall’s parents took in 1990, before he was born, throwing soundsystem parties across Europe, and also by the dance music they played in the house as he grew up. “ Although judging by Weatherall’s track record with the media I would question the validity of this, but there’s a video to prove it and there’s definitely a family resemblance there, unless it’s just Ross from friends dressed up like Jerry Seinfeld.

Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder is the label behind the release and Ross From friends contributed a new track to their upcoming compilation too.

Touring the release of his album, Weatherall has opted for a live show, featuring guitar and saxophone. Although an accomplished DJ in every respect according to his peer DJ Seinfeld, the live show certainly has an undeniable energy to it as seen from this Boiler Room TV. At some point the guitarist is playing on the shoulders of some guy. We do not condone this behavior however.

Ross from friends is bringing this to Jæger this weekend as part of the Family Portrait tour with the Hubbabubbklubb DJs presiding and in a message on the Ransom Note about this tour he said:  “Make sure to catch us, Ross From Friends, at various bars and clubs up and down Europe—and remember—the first 30 people through the door get a free Topman iPod touch case!” We can’t confirm this will actually happen, but we did have to get some towels from Ikea for the event, so make of that what you will.

Googling Ross from Friends October 25th 2018…

Oh, one last thing, if you do see a Ross From Friends that bears striking resemblance to the real David Schwimmer you’re in the wrong place and should probably check your pockets and contact the police.

The cut with Filter Musikk

Video killed the radio star when Sting told to the Dire Straits I want my MTV, but as music television turned scripted reality and the radio fled to the internet, there was a singular constant that remained steadfast in its resolution… the record store.

It survives the hype and the format and even when it might not be at its most popular it quietly waits, biding its name for the next revolution. The record store, is a relic from the past, but also the last remaining outpost for discernible musical tastes. It’s the only stop for DJs and enthusiasts alike, and whether you buy your records online or at some physical address, it’s the closest you get to the music through the recorded format.

In Oslo, Filter Musikk ticks those boxes. In our small town with big city aspirations we value and embrace that human connection that Filter Musikk offers. It makes music the tangible artistic expression, our last remaining link to the artists and their music in a digital world occupied by holograms and insta celebrities; where alien signals from exotic locations sell consumables to an unconscious audience.

Filter Musikk is a retreat and an escape from the brutal noise of this digital signal, and our last and only port of call to the music that matters. Here a record exists for the sake of the record, because the artist and the record company thought it was good enough to cement it in time in the physical format, for generations to come.

It’s the music that exists long after you’re hard drive is full and the cloud has evaporated. It’s the music that will outlast us all. These are the last physical records of human ingenuity and artistry and in this feature with Filter Musikk we celebrate the latest editions to this ever growing library.

This is the cut with Filter Musikk.

 

Various – Börft Dance Classics Vol. 2 (Börft) 12″

Börft records are constantly jumping the border with Sweden with an armload of records for Roland and Filter Musikk. Earlier this year they delivered a few boxes from their back catalogue and now their back with a few compilations from their classics archive and a bunch of a stickers.

Börft dance classic Vol 1 and 2 arrived in the same box and this second one particularly caught our attention, because it features FRAK, the artist that started it all for Börft over thirty years ago with the label’s first cassette, “Raggarslakt”. None of those tracks are on this compilation however which comes from a more mature era in the label’s lifetime.

Tracks recorded for the label between 1997-1999 constitutes this release with a particular focus on the dance floor behind the selection. Tracks from the aforementioned Frak, Crinan, Kord and Pean Romel appear together and have aged gracefully from a time when House music was still very DIY, but had started figuring out what this button does in the studio.

There’s a fervent and impatient energy to the tracks that at the point it reaches Crinan’s Jeti sounds like Tom Cruise after he got into Xenu’s cookie jar. Simple, repetitive refrains stay the course through extensive dance floor workouts that make absolutely no concessions for anything outside of a DJ set or club.  

House music has hardly strayed far from these ideals documented on this compilation today, but over the years it might have lost a little of this urgency and reflecting on this day is both nostalgic and inspiring.  

 

RXmode – Degraded (The Transhumanism Remixes) (Bass Agenda) 12″

A boy’s sullen visage greets us on the cover of this record in a mood that pulses through the entire record. RXMode returns to the UK label Bass Agenda for a malicious Electro romp on Degraded and ropes in TFHats, w1b0 and Slaves of Sinus for a bunch of transhuman remixes.

The original offers a bouncing beat with a snare whipping at the surface texture of the track. A 303 bass-line burbling up somewhere from hell itself, sticks to the subterranean frequencies with a sense of malign intent mirrored in the atmospheric soundscape of the rest of the track.

TFHats or Tin Foil Hats, offer the most interesting rendition of Degraded wadding a vocal lead line in the mix and completely making it their own. It harks back to a time of Nitzer Ebb and Front 242 and we approve this message.

 

Luke Eargoggle – Computer Nights (Börft) 12″

In amongst the re-issues and greatest hits records in the Börft box also came a few new records, maintaining the label’s relevancy on the electronic music landscape. It’s odd that Luke Eargoggle has only been on Björft once before – on the 2015 train to illusion record which has been repressed recently – seeing as the two musical entities are practically from the same region and that they both dwell in the obscure corners of electronic music. Or maybe he has?   

For those of you who don’t know, Luke Eargoggle is to Electro what Kurt Loder was to MTV. (Yes, there’s a theme emerging here just bare with me.) Luke Eargoggle has been making funky Techno and Electro for the best part of a lifetime, and he’s been proliferating it for just as long through his label Stilleben records. Computer Nights is the recent, or quite recent, addition to an immense discography that has seen him waver little from the original sound of Detroit and Chicago.

Computer nights could easily have been sleepless nights as Mr. Eargoggle appears restless and solemn, piecing together effervescent textures with jack hammer beats. The title track contains some curiosities as it jumps through some slight tempo changes, something that gets incredibly accentuated when you drop the speed to 33 too. We should have more electro at 90 BPM in my opinion.

The whole EP is a fast-paced pursuit to arrive at Grava 4 in a spaceship guided by a broken computer. Melodic lines like the de-tuning synth on “I heart you” and the discontented synthesised choir from “Vampire Kollaps” give Computer Nights a very peculiar edge. There’s some disturbing nightmare laying beyond the funky rhythms and the major key melodies, but it’s all going to be ok, we’ll get there soon.

 

O/H – Market Values (L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems)) 12″

Rhythmic noise is used to describe this latest offering from Ron Morelli’s label L.I.E.S on Discogs. Isn’t all music just rhythmic noise? O/H or Ontario Hospital follow up 2015’s Future Ready on Opal Tapes with Market Values… and just in time for Halloween.

Fragments of distortion and the disenfranchised samples of some audio scion, scratch like nine inch nails on a chalkboard under the draconian control of Techno formations. Four-four kicks and sequenced bass-lines are unable to contour under the pressure of Techno’s strict parameters as pieces splinter off into the ether in a magnificent spray of noise.

A disgruntled vocal at the centre of all the tracks spewing angry phrases on the record, bemoaning the age of hyper capitalism. O/H actually have something to say here and they’ve found the prefect sonic expression on Market Values for their anti-capitalist vitriol. It’s still a Techno record, a Techno record with a functional design, but it’s also a record that’s angry and tries at least to make an impression beyond its initial purpose.

 

A Homeboy, A Hippie & A Funki Dredd – Total Confusion 2018 Remixes (Rising High) 12

“From when MTV played good stuff” says Roland Lifjell and sends me this video. We didn’t get MTV in South Africa until 1997 and before then we were still listening to the radio and looking up at the moon, but the hyper-colourful video does well to emphasise the sound of this record. It’s an early 90’s rave classic, music from when MTV was still young and idealistic.

And that’s it, we got back to MTV! Woo Hoo! It’s been one hell of journey, but we made it. It’s the end of the article and we accomplished a narrative arc… I’d like thank you all for sticking with us and see you all next week.

A brief exchange with Ejeca

In 2012 AUS records paired the emerging House duo, Bicep with Ejeca and propelled two careers from a single track, “You”. Although the former had already released EPs previously, the record established Garry McCartney’s career as Ejeca who released a string of EPs that very same year and hasn’t stopped since. “You” is a slow moving track with euphoric peaks as it paces through a half time break beat. A ghostly vocal sample rides a tide of synths like a lonesome echo in the fog.

Ejeca, the Belfast artist and DJ had been making music since his teens and started DJing shortly after, playing Techno for the discerning tastes of close family according to a sixatthegarage interview. From his first solo release, Krunk he went on to release 12 inches and EPs for the likes of Waze & Odyssey’s W&O street tracks, 20:20 Vision and Unknown to the Unknown.

Ejeca’s music is built on the foundations of House with elements of trance, breakbeat and acid, pulsing through punchy dance floor arrangements on his releases. There’s always a melodic line or harmonic synth ascending to ephemeral heights in his works while sub-bass lines rumble at the depths below ground.

McCartney has established the label Exploris in this singular pursuit with releases from the artist and others like Dema and Chris Hanna filling out the catalogue. In recent years he’s split his musical narrative in two with his trance edit project Trance Wax, lieteraly taking its cues from the likes of Sasha and Moby’s music and pitching it down to the more palatable House tempo where McCartney’s music lives and breathes.

As Ejeca he’s hung up the headphones for a moment and taken to the stage in a new live show that has been taking him all over the world. After a recent sojourn to Australia and New Zealand, he’s back in the studio. We caught up with McCartney and Ejeca for a quick exchange to ask about his musical origins, his workflow and the Belfast scene before he jets off again to Oslo and Jæger.

*Ejeca plays live this Friday at Frædag.

Hello Garry and thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I believe you’re in the studio right now. What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just got back from an Australia and New Zealand tour which was great. Production wise I’ve finished of Trance Wax 5 and two Ejeca EPs have also just been sent off for cutting, all three will be out in the first half of next year.

 

Do you usually have an idea for a record framed in your head before you even start recording or composing something?

I try and mix it up during the wake and make a different ‘genre’ each day. For instance I’ve been making a lot of jungle and drum and bass lately, it’s good but not good enough to get released yet. I find varying what you make really helps your sound gain originality.

What are the key ingredients to a piece of music that makes a record an Ejeca record for you?

It’s hard to answer but I think I keep things simple. There is always a nod to the 90s in my tracks, whether it be house techno or trance. I think nostalgia is a key thing to me.

I believe when you started DJing you started with Techno. What drew you to House and how did your surroundings and Belfast play a role in your development as an artist?

I used to buy and mix a lot of hard techno. Old Liebing and Beyer stuff, as well as DJ Rush, Viper XXL etc. I just liked the groove and tempo. At the same time I was in to French house, Crydamoure and Roule were great labels. All of this stuff was played in different rooms in Shine in Belfast 15 years ago. Sadly Shine has recently closed, and end of a 23 year era.

How did you go from being Djing to producing, and what effect has producing had on the way you DJ?

At first I produced, I would have been about 12 using the early version of FL Studio (Fruity Loops). I can remember making techno tracks with samples of Cartman from South Park :-/

I would always see myself as a producer first, I like djing but I feel most at home in the studio.

 

In an interview with you there’s a reference to an Irish scene. Is there a scene in Belfast and who and what are the key players there?

We have people like Calibre, Boxcutter, Phil Kieran, who have defined genres in the past. I know now for a small city there’s a huge amount of underrated producers who are making great stuff so the underground production scene is very vibrant.

I’ll let you get back to your work then, Garry. Is there anything you’d like to add before we see you next week?

I’m really looking to visiting Norway for the first time, I’ve heard great things about Jaeger! See you on the dance floor.

Album of the Week: Ross From Friends – Family Portrait

Ross from Friends (Felix Weatherall) might have his tongue firmly in his cheek when he’s being interviewed, especially when talking about the origins of his chosen artistic alias, but when it comes to music, he’s nothing if not serious. In one of the most anticipated albums of the year, Ross From Friends went from a DJ and producer of niche form of House music to an international musical sensation.

Since “Talk to me, You’ll understand” his second release, he’s been on an upward directory, facilitated by the Internet and Lo-Fi, the musical label that derfines his music as a funny DJ name, distorted hats and meme culture. Wether it’s David Cameron humming his breakout hit through his resignation speech or the video of the precocious youngster for “Gettin it Done”, the Internet has played a major role in bringing Ross From Friends to the wider world, but it’s always been more than just a meme, a funny DJ name or a tag and from behind all the layers of irony and jokes a very sincere debut album emerges called Family Portrait.

Family Portrait finds Weatherall perpetuating the strain of House music he’s developed on EPs for Lobster Theremin and Magicwire for a more involved listening experience. Off kilter samples, mutating into alien atmospheres, play provocatively against the backdrop of sinewy digital percussion punching holes through cloaks of synthesised pads.

Weatherall’s musical palette reaches further than it’s ever done before, incorporating elements of breakbeat, garage and R&B in its DNA, while moulding it perfectly for the album of format. It’s a Ross From Friends work made for introspective listening moments on a set of headphones on an old iPod, and while it remains as playful and energising like his dance floor workouts, there’s also an invisible calm to the album.

Filler tracks like “Back into Space” and the more reserved pieces like “The Knife” set a melancholic mood, while “Thank God I’m a Lizard” and “the beginning” – which obviously comes at the end – maintains the Ross from Friends connection. Weatherall is not exactly charting new ground for his sound on Family Portrait, but merely contextualising it in the same way he’s done with the live show in the traditional club format or the guitar and saxophone framed within electronic music dialect.

Family Portrait has subverted the natural shelf-life of similar Internet sensations and established Ross from Friends as more than the sum of its parts.

Prins Thomas compiles 4-hour mix for Smalltown Supersound

Smalltown Supersound celebrate their 25th anniversary with a mix by Prins Thomas.

The Oslo-based label Smalltown Supersound called on longtime affiliate, Prins Thomas to compile a mix celebrating their quarter century and the Prins obliged with a 4-hour mix featuring everybody from Sonic Youth to Ricardo Villalobos. It’s called the The Movement Of The Free Spirit and will be released late November as a cd Box Set with the first disc available  as LP too.

It’s a monster mix with an extensive tracklist covering three CDs with 10-15 tracks on each. Joakim Haugland of Smalltowen Supersound told RA that “Thomas has followed the label since the early beginnings. Back in the days I was always thinking: ‘He’s a house/disco DJ—why does he want my noise records?’ I realize now I wasn’t smart enough to understand his scope… While I have always struggled to describe what the label is, only now—with this mix—I can finally say: This is what it is.”

There’s an unreleased Bjørn Torske & Prins Thomas track in the mix and it includes music from the label and beyond. There’s a heavy Norwegian presence with Biosphere, Jaga Jazzist, Lindstrøm, Diskjokke et al on board as Prins Thomas perfectly presenting the sound and concept of Smalltown Supersound on this mix. We might have to install a CD player in the café for this one.

If you build it they will come – DELLA interviews Homero Espinosa

The last time DELLA and Homero Espinosa got together, it was on the House scorcher “Burning Hot”. On the track a syncopated beat skips over a low-slung bass hook like it’s a bed of hot coals, perfectly poised for the dance floor where DELLA’s salacious vocal pulses through the arrangement. An upbeat key arrangement skims just above the surface, before floating off into the distance on some euphoric trajectory, looking back with a reverend nod to the deeper elements at its core.

Released in early 2018, Burning Hot was the first time DELLA and Homero Espinosa worked together, but their West Coast connection and deep appreciation and respect for the origins of House music forged a track out of the foundation of House music that went on to climb the Traxsource charts.

Homero Espinosa’s story begins at the height of House music on the West Coast, San Francisco to be precise. Like DELLA, his education starts on the other side of the booth, on the dance floor during the emergence of the budding warehouse rave scene in the Bay Area. From the dance floor to the booth he cut his teeth at ground zero during the nineties, taking up DJing and eventually production as he evolved with the scene.

Together with Chris Lum, David Harness, Ivan Ruiz, Cubase Dan, Allen Craig and Sergio Ferdanz, Espinosa established the label Moulton Music with a close-knit community at its core, picking up releases from local peers like Fred Everything and Mark Farina. It’s the label that brings most of Espinosa’s own music to the world and together with his music on labels like Strictly Rhythm it established a career as one of the most respected producers and DJs in the Bay Area.

If he’s not working on his own music or running Moulton Music, he’s collaborating with the likes of Mark Farina or Allen Craig as Yerba Buena Discos. He’s found an audience in Europe too with tracks on mixes for Fabric and Ministry of sound mix compilations, and now makes regular trips to the continent, bringing a little history of West Coast House music with him wherever he goes.

On his next visit to Europe for ADE, DELLA’s Drivhus added Oslo as another stop on the itinerary. But before the pair would be reunited again, this time in the DJ booth, DELLA sent Espinosa an email to find out a little more about his music and career and it went:

“Hi Homero, I am super stoked that you will be joining me soon behind the decks in our little gem of a club, Jæger. Like I mentioned earlier in my mail, I do an interview between myself and my guests for our Jæger blog. I am looking forward to now learning more about you musically. ;)”

Homero Espinosa obliged and somewhere over the pacific on his way to Amsterdam, he responded in kind with details about the origins of his career in music, Moulton Music and a little taste of what his set might sound like at Jæger this weekend.

Della: I am beyond excited to be joining you behind the decks at the next Della’s Drivhus. You have been both a great inspiration and support for me as an artist, would you mind to tell us now a little bit about your journey? When and how did you start getting involved in House music? Who is Homero Espinosa as an artist?

Homero Espinosa: Hi DellaFirst off, I’m super excited to come out and play some music with you and thank you for making it happen . I was very fortunate to be part of the late 90’s rave scene in San Francisco. I grew up listening to DJs like Mark Farina, DJ Sneak, David Harness, and Doc Martin to name a few. After a couple of years of going to raves I was inspired to pick up a set of decks and learn the craft. We were pretty spoiled back in the day with all the amazing records stores, from Primal Records in Berkeley (my second home) to Tweekin Records in the City, I was surrounded by amazing artists, sharing their love of music with me. Shortly after, I started hosting my own events, small undergrounds, around the San Francisco Bay Area. I didn’t start getting into production until around 2006 and one of the very first songs I wrote, Can You Feel Me?, Mark Farina licensed for his Ministry of Sound Sessions mix comp. It was off to the races from there!

 

Homero Espinosa

D: You are based in the Bay Area, California (San Francisco / Oakland), this area is known for its own unique influence and sound in House music. Can you give us a short history lesson on the legendary San Francisco House scene and why the Bay Area has emerged such deep/soulful vibes in dance music and continues to do so?

HE: As I mentioned earlier, the San Francisco rave was MASSIVE in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Every weekend there was at least one, sometimes, 2, or 3 huge raves with over 20k in attendance and all the clubs were packed to the gills. We had the European influence with such crews as Wicked and also the roots of the San Francisco LBTQ communities with disco and soulful house with David Harness. Mark Farina also had his weekly event, Mushroom Jazz, which was all down-tempo instrumental hip-hop and jazz. So much amazing music every night of the week!

D: Not only are you a producer / DJ, you are the cofounder of Moulton Music. A label that sends each release to the top of the House charts and is one of the strongest players in House music today. How did becoming a label owner stem out of the seed of your House music experience? What do you find is the most rewarding, and what challenges you from running your own label? To those up-n-coming djs, would you advise starting a label to help gain success in their career?

HE: I have to give it up to Chris Lum. I was renting a studio at the legendary Moulton Studios compound in San Francisco. I became close friends with Chris and it was there that we decided to launch Moulton Music along with David Harness, Ivan Ruiz, Cubase Dan, Allen Craig and Sergio Ferdanz. I’m very lucky to be surrounded with such talented artists that give me so much amazing music to put out. For the up and coming artist and labels, consistency is the key. We release a record every 2 weeks and we’re usually 3 months out. I also made it a point to build connections with the people that sell our music. Traxsource has been instrumental in our success and that all started with me reaching out to the folks running the site and building a relationship. I know everyone who touches our music and I make it a point to know more about them. This business is all about relationships.

D: Is this going to be your 1st time playing in Oslo? What do you recognize as differences from the US House scene vs. Europe?

HE: Yes, I am looking forward to it! The US scene has more soul because of our culture and the connection to rhythm and blues and is reflected in what the audience wants to hear. Every time I play in Europe I have to play a little harder, a little faster, but I still stay true to my roots.

D: You and I had the opportunity to work together in the Moulton studios last year (what a brilliant experience it was!) and you have collaborated with many talented artists, including house legends such as Mark Farina. As a producer and label owner, what motivates you to collaborate with different artists? And/or how do you select producers/remixers for the label? Is there a logistical method you use or is it all straight from the heart?

HE: The Moulton vibe is all chill and no drama and we tend to gravitate to towards artist who are the same. Of course, you have to make dope ass music, but leave the drama at home!

D: Your experience in House music runs deep back to the good ’Old School’ days of the 90’s rave scene. In 2018, it seems everyone is a DJ and the competition is thick, what do you think gives a DJ their longevity? What advice can you give those who are just starting out?

HE: I sometimes hear artists complain about the politics of the scene and yes, it can be challenging, but how I got around that was doing my own thing. I didn’t rely on people booking me for gigs. I made my own gigs, at the beginning it was hard to get folks to go out, but over time people started coming. When you look at all the big DJs, they all have their own nights and that’s how they build their following. Dirtybird is a perfect example, those cats started out throwing free parties in a park in San Francisco and look at them now. If you build it, they will come….

D: Moulton Music has released major players such as Tony Humphries, Mark Farina, Mr. V., Fred Everything, Luke Solomon, Doc Martin, and Dj Spen. Can I ask, what other artist that inspire would you want to welcome to the Moulton family? And please tell us about Moulton’s upcoming releases and your plans for 2019.

HE: Everyone on the label has a personal connection with one of the core artist on the label. David Harness and Chris Lum brought us DJ Spen, Tony Humphries, and Mr. V. DJ spen remixed the very first Moulton release. ‘Big Tool –DJ Spen Jungle Boogie mix.’ Fred Everything had a suite at Moulton Studios and he would always give me tips for mixing when I was starting out. He was one of the early remixers we hired and his remix was what put us on the map, ‘Love Say (Fred Everything Remix).’

2019 we’re really going to continue doing what we do on the label and have some special albums to announce at the beginning of the year. We’ve also started hosting our own Moulton Music events and they have been a lot of fun. We’re going to package that up and take on the road.

D: I have been inside your DJ room with wall to wall vinyl, your library holds tracks that are the definition of the House movement (it’s a soul thing). Can you please give us a selection of 3 tracks that might even school the deepest of Househeads?

HE: I can actually give you more than 3. I just did this interview for Beatport called Monitor where they ask artist to put together the sounds that make up the sounds of their city.

D: Thanks Homero for taking the time to chat with us. This edition of Della’s Drivhus is surely going to be ’Burnin, burnin HOT!’ I can’t wait! – DELLA

 

Da Capo stands in for Black Motion during Oslo World

Black Coffee protege Da Capo joins the Oslo World line-up and Black Motion reschedules for early 2019.

Due to some unforeseen circumstances Black Motion are unable to fulfil their commitment during the Oslo World festival and we have to wait just a tad longer to get the South African DJs at Jæger, but it’s a two for one as we get Da Capo to stand in for the duo. While we’ve rescheduled Black Mortion’s appearance at Jæger for the 18th of January 2019, South African House artist Da Capo will take their place for the Oslo World festival.

A burgeoning talent on South Africa’s enduring House scene, Da Capo has been nurtured under the wing of South African House music monolith, Black Coffee, and like his peers Black Motion, he makes esoteric House music, bringing together influences from home and further abroad.

Da Capo is Nicodimas Sekheta Mogashoa is a self-taught producer & DJ who first fell in love with house music at an early age enabling him to have a good ear for music and the unmistakable ability to create blazing sounds to keep masses salivating for more.  It earned him his spot amongst South Africa and the world over as a highly regarded producer at the tender age of 21.

Inspired by the biggest names in the house music industry such as Nick Holder, Zepherin Saint and Andy Compton, to name a few, Da Capo has set forth on a journey to create his mark on the House Music scene with the release of his Solo EPs released under DNH Records  elevating him to the status of a household name in countries far afield and clubs around the world. Recently he’s signed a deal with Toronto based Music Label DNH Records owned by well-known DJ/Producer Nick Holder. 

You can find out more about the event here and here.

Drexciya Submerged

Watch a short documentary on how Drexciya went underwater and then to space through their music.

Cropping up today via Resident Advisor comes this short documentary on James Stinson and Gerald Donald’s Drexciya and the underwater concept at the centre of their work. With some audio commentary from the Stinson, Donald and Techno luminaries  Jeff Mills and Stingray, RA delves briefly deep into the sci-fi, water-world of Drexciya in this documentary. There’s some interesting factoids on the origins of these concepts in black American music history – it stretches back further than you think – and the reason why Grava 4 is named Grava 4.

 

 

 

Tickets for Hubbas Klubb with Ross From Friends is available now

Limited tickets are available now for Hubbas Klubb with Ross from Friends through Ticketmaster.

Avoid the MC Kaman guestlistpqueue mayhem and secure your ticket for Hubba’s Klubb on the 27th of October, when Ross From Friends joins the Norwegian troubadours in our basement for a live set. You can read more about the event here, and get your tickets here.

We have only released a limited amount of tickets for pre-sale, and there will still be some tickets available on the night at the door.

Ross From Friends has just released his debut LP, Family Portrait and his accompanying live show has been getting some incredible reviews already. Here he  is doing his thing for Boiler Room:

Hubbabubbaklubb also just released their critically acclaimed debut LP, Drømmen, Drømmerne, Drømmer this week, and the band will be playing a DJ set in the company of Ross.

Album of the Week: Hubbabubbaklubb – Drømmen drømmerne drømmer

For as longs as I’ve been in Oslo there has been talk of an album. It was an album, that was a mere abstract thought, talked about in hushed tones and reverend whispers in clandestine locations. It always left a tense air of expectation wherever it went and it hadn’t even had a name yet. Today it has a name. Hubbabubbaklubb’ debut LP is finally here and it’s called; Drømmen drømmerne drømmer. What had been a metaphysical concept since the Oslo group released their first single has found its way into physical form and it’s occupying a very special place in our record collection. The album was released over the weekend with great fanfare and spectacular sold-out live show dubbed the flying circus in Youngstorget, but beyond the hype a truly remarkable musical document exists. Its up there amongst Todd Terje’s “It’s Album Time” and “Prins Thomas & Lindstrøm” as one of the best Norwegian LPs of our time.

Hubbabubbaklubb is something of an Oslo supergroup with people like Joystick Jay, Olefonken and André Bratten making their own significant contributions on Oslo’s musical soundscape as solo artists. Lead singer Morten Skjæveland is the force behind events like Skranglejazz and Hubba’s Klubb and a DJ, while brothers Pål Ulvik Rokseth and Ole Ulvik Rokesth influences can be felt in various other musical projects from the city, like Gundelach. Together, although sans André Bratten lately, they’ve been releasing music as Hubbabubbaklubb since 2013, absorbing various other musical characters in a mercurial band of troubadours whose sound moves through the great expanse of the known musical universe like a solemn glacier, consuming all and everything in their wake.

In many ways Drømmen drømmerne drømmer is a Hubbabubbaklubb greatest hits album, containing the singles “Mopedbart”, “Tomme Lommer” and “Eddie & Suzanne”. In the context of the album however there’s a sinuous bond that exists between these tracks and the rest of the album, that suggests they were always intended for an album, together. It seems like this LP was five years in the making with songs like “Mopedbart” – and I’m sure there are a few previously unheard pieces that are just as old if not older – only maturing with age.  The album is not  framed within a single contemporary period because these older pieces, which much like the fotos and the lyrics pasted on the impressive gatefold sleeve, exists beyond time, it’s a truly timeless record.

Drømmen drømmerne drømmer is made up of partisan songs, each with its own subtle differences, coming together in a truly distinct Hubbabubbaklubb sound. Lead vocalist Morten Skjæveland’s shy melodic reveries expressing lyrics with a nostalgic tongue in cheek  glare is in the foreground of the Hubbabubbaklubb sound with slow modulating textures moving through the gaps between beats and bass lines. There’s a delicateness to their music that is accomplished in the studio, where they distribute parts evenly across the musical spectrum like a band of musical Bolsheviks in a Monty Python sketch. Through a few key elements, they lay down serene textures that envelope extensive sonic pastures like an impressionist painting, with far reaching musical influences informing their work.

Whether they are getting folksy on “Fjellet” or tapping into soul and funk with “Den Hvite By”, the parameters of their sound are not exactly concrete, reaching far into a eclectic spectrum of music, but it’s always delivered in a way only the Hubbabbubbaklubb could. Remarkably they manage to channel this into one distinct voice every time throughout the record.

Each song is its own all-encompassing universe, and its hard to remember an album with so many radio friendly singles contained on one record, but there’s also a fluid exchange between the tracks where in the context of the other they only work in the album format. Like a William Burroughs narrative or a Quentin Tarantino plot-line, Hubbabubbuklubb create a fully-formed picture out of musical vignettes that come together under auspices of the LP. There isn’t a insignificant moment on Drømmen drømmerne drømmer and everybody will have their own highlight on the record. Much like those record mentioned earlier, Hubbabubbaklub’s debut LP has all the markings of a modern day classic and a truly timeless record.

From the Soul with Mono Junk

Google, Imatra Finland. The screen projects a mural of picturesque views, snow-capped furs, bavarian-style castles, billowing rivers in autumn and scenic forest landscapes. Like something from a Grimm Brothers fairy tale, there’s something incredibly surreal and yet completely tangible about the Finnish hamlet from the computer screen. It’s the kind of place you’d associate with acoustic music about ancient folklore while rosy cheeked women step through ritual dances in unflattering bulky dresses. It’s not the place you’d associate with Techno, but one particular individual in Imatra’s small 30 000 population has changed that forever. Kimmo Rapatti (Mono Junk, Melody Boy 2000) is from Imatra.

He’s recently made the move back to the town where he was born and raised after a short stint in Berlin and twenty years in the Finnish city of Turku. “You get real winters in Imatra”, he says during a moment of silence during soundcheck at Kafe Hærverk where he is due to play live later that evening. He talks of Imatra and its relative size, the surrounding forest and natural splendour of the region in a matter-of-fact tone. “Do you find inspiration in your surroundings?“ I ask him when we sit down for an interview after the soundcheck. “Yeah, you could say that,” he says like the thought had only just occurred to him and then falls back into a contemplative silence.

Kimmo’s fifty years has only accentuated and honed his pragmatic Finnish demeanour. He talks in austere, succinct sentences between gulps of beer and often falls into a quiet thoughtful daze like he’s trying to conjure a particular memory, but comes up short. Whenever he returns to the questions, he answers in monosyllabic, short bursts, constructed in sentences from some metaphysical process and delivered in his heavy accent.

Kimmo has been making music as Mono Junk since the ninety nineties. In 1990 he released his first record, and two years later he established Dum records with the same solitary attitude to making music. He’s been an enduring figure, not only in Finland, but everywhere in the furtive margins of Techno and Electro for the past thirty years and has continually staked his claim throughout his career. A very reserved output, mostly on Dum records, Mono Junk’s music, much like the man behind the music, make succinct impressions on record collections, with a singular musical voice that has remained largely unchanged. With a penchant for melodic themes and robotic precision, Mono Junk’s music continues to make intense imprints on the electronic music landscape for labels like Forbidden Planet and Skudge.

Kimmo’s journey on this path begins back in Imatra, in the ninety eighties. He had “been a fan” of synth pop from a young age, citing groups like “Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode and Howard Jones” as early luminaries, but he never thought for a moment “there was anything special in that (style) of music”. There had been no early inclination or sign that Kimmo would eventually turn to a career in music, but that all changed during the second summer of love in the late ninety eighties when the UK Rave scene bursts forth and electronic dance music from Chicago and Detroit found its way into the rest of Europe, even to small hamlets on the southeast of Finland.

There were a “small group of guys who started to make Techno, influenced of Chicago and Detroit Techno” in Imatra according to Kimmo. In an interview with Digital Tsunami, he distinctly remembers “that I heard Rhythim Is Rhythim’s Nude Photo and Phuture’s Acid tracks when they were brand new”  through a local DJ acquaintance. Although the UK Rave scene had made its presence felt in Finland as soon as it arrived and the music from Chicago and Detroit had already started proliferating the airwaves, there was one significant issue with Imatra; There was no place to hear the music. Warehouse party culture had taken up in parts of Finland, but they were still 400km away, and although there were “a few DJ gigs at local bars” available to a burgeoning DJ like Kimmo, “you couldn’t really play underground stuff.”

In 1990 Kimmo made the move to Helsinki. It was in the Finnish capital that he “got to know Finnish scratch DJ” and “DMC scratch champion, DJ Kari Kaivola” and the two struck up a friendship. Kimmo and Kari hat met at a DMC scratch championship in 1989, and when he moved to Helsinki the older and more established Kari took Kimmo under his wing, giving him access to his studio, to start making his own records.

“I didn’t know anything” Kimmo says with the advantage of hindsight. It was inconsequential however, because it was the “time of sampling” and armed with handful of records he made his first bold steps into production with Kari. “Maybe we can make something out of this”, he remembers telling Kari as he handed over the records and by 1990 Kimmo had made his first record as B-Rock. “My Mind is goin’” was released on Kari’s Dancebeat Records and it was a collage of off-beat samples, synth lines and a repetitive vocal hook brought together in an unmistakably Electro fashion. “I think I’m both the Electro and Techno godfather of Finland”, says Kimmo with a gratifying smile.

Considering this was most likely the first Electro record ever produced in Finland where acts like Morphology, Mesak and Freestyle Man continue to pursue this style of music today, there’s a lot of salient logic to this bold claim. It would be through Techno however where Kimmo Rapatti would etch his name in the annals of electronic music as Mono Junk. After releasing his first record in 1990, he got his first synthesiser, “a Roland JX 3P”, and started making what he considered his “own music” as Mono Junk shortly after. As Mono Junk he released his first record in 1992 and simultaneously established Dum Records as an offshoot of Kari Kaivola’s Dancebeat records.

The ninety nineties to many like Kimmo is still the pinnacle era of Techno, where it was first constructed as the obelisk in electronic music it was today. The genre was far less austere and functional during that period, with serene synthesisers assuaging the robotic rhythms of drum machines for hedonistic delights. Mono Junk’s music is probably the best European example of that time. Whether it’s “a generational thing” for Kimmo or just a result of the fact that he started making and listening to that music during that period, it still remains the best decade for Techno in his opinion. There were “so many good records in the nineties” he recalls today and he was responsible for a fair few of them. Tracks from Mono Junk’s discography during that period, reveal an unconformity in approach to electronic music and Techno that sounds like no other artist from that era and a fair few of them have become outright Techno classics.

Listening to “Another Acid” from 1993, a lysergic acid-loop plays like the sequential patter of rain drops on a zinc roof for 32 bars before any semblance of percussion presents itself. For his live show at Hærverk, he takes the essence of that track and channels it into an extemporised diatribe on the machine, completely doing away with the essential percussive arrangement on this occasion. The bass-line warbles on like an irrational computer stuck in time, before Kimmo eventually moves onto the next track in his live show. His music has remained fairly constant throughout his career, only developing in soundscape as technology evolved, but retaining the core essence of his musical identity that’s been there since the ninety nineties.

There’s always a sincere melodic essence to any Mono Junk track which you can trace from those first Dum records (even the Dancebeat record) to the present and records like his most Forbidden Planet releases. It stems from from being “a big fan of arpeggio”, he tells me. “Most of my melodies are out of some arpeggio.” This is the crucial ingredient to any Mono Junk track he insists, and he won’t even consider working further on a track if this “first part is not perfect.” For Kimmo every track “needs to have some melody, bass-line or some perfect loop” for him to proceed with the arrangement of it, and this has been a significant factor in why he favours a reserved output.

It’s only when he knows “it’s good” that he’ll even consider putting out a track. He keeps the best of these for his own label Dum Records and sends the rest to others for release. It’s perhaps part of the reason his music has always divided opinion. Mono Junk’s music is very secure in itself, hardly making concessions to outside influences and always standing very much on its own within the the Techno denomination. It’s very bold music for discernible tastes.

Throughout his career, Kimmo would often leave Mono Junk on the back burner while he pursued projects like Melody Boy 2000 and New York City Survivors with Irwin Berg, but even after a long hiatus he would always return to Mono Junk. There was a period in the last decade where he believed he would completely leave Techno behind according to his interview with Digital Tsunami, but that all changed in 2014 when he released new music via Forbidden Planet and the “passion” returned. FP004 and FP008 contain some of Mono Junk’s best works with tracks like “With You”, “Prince of the Night” and “Channel B RMX” dotted throughout those two releases. These records came just at the right time, when Techno had become straight jacketed into very restrictive, unforgiving moulds. Mono Junk showed there could still be some more accessible, soulful aspect to this music that lives beyond the dominating kick and brooding atmosphere.

Today Kimmo still “feels like I’m in the nineties and a little bit out of the scene, even though I have played in recent years,” but things like trend and scenes have never really affected Kimmo’s music. His music always seems to live beyond time and the only thing that ever keeps him motivated is: “I just wanted to make good records.” I ask Kimmo where he finds his inspiration and his voice, buried deep from somewhere beyond his diaphragm, says “from my soul.”

The impression I get from Kimmo through our brief conversation is that of an old soul. He was twenty two when he first started making music, an age that already “felt old” in a very youthful movement. Almost thirty years on from that moment he might have aged somewhat physically, but his music hasn’t. He still makes Techno and Electro with the same essential proclivity for music that transcends borders, scenes and trends that have outlasted the artists, producers and DJs that pivot around their surroundings. In his stubborn and arduous pursuit to make music from his soul with an apprehension for anything less than perfection he has established a lasting musical legacy that continues to make a significant impression on music.

 

*Special thanks to Kafé Hærverk and Jokke for facilitating this interview. 

The Cut with Filter Musikk – The nearly Norwegian Halloween special

Frozen pizzas, Waffles, French bistros, Friday Tacos, Latin dance halls and Hamburger joints; you don’t get much more Norwegian than that. This week on the cut, it’s a Norwegian invasion… well nearly. Coming in fresh off the press to Filter Musikk this week were a lot of represses and dominating the new releases was a very Norwegian contingent. “Why don’t we only pick out the Norwegian records this week,” said Roland and who are we to argue with the proprietor of Filter Musikk.

Roland Lifjell is an ardent supporter of the local scene. In amongst the records that make it onto shelves in his store and into record collections of local DJs, is a substantial Norwegian selection. Records from the local labels and artists make exclusive premieres at Filter Musikk on a weekly basis, often getting a headstart on the big distributors and stores further afield in Europe.

We’re not nationalists, but Norwegian music and DJ culture is some of the highest standard you’ll get in the world. People covet the vinyl format here, only perhaps equal to the way they do in Japan, and nowhere else in the world are you able to find so many good DJs per capita with a serious investment in music. Yes, even Berlin pales in comparison. In Norway, music, digging and DJing is very much a way of life thanks to high salaries and a lot of free-time (fr everybody except Roland though) and it’s made a fundamental imprint on the musical landscape through the artists and records they’ve released. Todd Terje, Full Pupp, Sex Tags, Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas are just a few of the exports, but there is so much more to be discovered, if you dig just a little deeper.  

That’s where Roland Lifjell comes in. He prioritises these records, placing them up on the display rack, and always holding one or two back for some of the dedicated followers and, of course his own record bag. At Filter Musikk it passes directly from the label owner (and often the artist) to record store and eventually to consumer. It’s a very personal exchange that Filter Musikk facilitates in Oslo and that’s why it stands as bastion of music and Dk culture in the city today.

So let’s get into it, the Cut with Filter musikk, a nearly Norwegian special.

 

Kahuun, DJ Fett Burger, DJ Grillo Wiener – Batteri – Strøm (Sex Tags UFO) 12″ repress

“Last time i heard this was 2000 omg .classic dd”, says one discogs user. Sometimes the classics never die and that’s why the repress exists. Fett Burger and Sex Tags is not the type of label to just do a simple repress anr this repress of “Batteri” is not just another copy of the original UFO03. To change things up, Fett Burger delivers the new original track “Strøm”, featuring DJ Grillo Wiener on the b-side of “Batteri.  

It’s a Norwegian invasion on this release, as Telephones join Fett Burger and Grillo Wiener for a feisty House workout on Strøm. Raucous percussion, played by Telephones apparently, and gnawing bass-lines counterpoint the energy of Kahuun’s track on the A-side. It’s bit more DIY and less polished than the A-side, but it definitely worth it if you don’t have a copy of the original pressing.

“Batteri “still steals the show. It’s lasted the test of time and some 18 years on from when it was originally made it still sounds great. Shakers and hand percussion interject with rapturous delight as warm rhodes chords form a languid bed of harmony for a very dense arrangement.

 

Velferd – Visions Of The Unknown (Maksimal) LP

Bergen calling… Velferd ponders the universe, space and the unknown in this six track LP for Maksimal. “Visions of the Unknown“exists somewhere between the Blade Runner soundtrack and the restless sequential melodies of Giorgio Moroder. A retro Sci Fi theme pulses through the record with both visual and sonic cues from a simpler time when spacemen wore fish bowls on their heads and robots were the evil spawn of mad scientists.

An arsenal of eighties synths, exchange beatific melodic lines between unwavering drum computers pounding out rhythms like an unionised android. Although only six tracks long and  could as well be an extended EP or a mini album, there’s a theme running through the tracks that tie the dots in an album-like narrative.

It’s a archetypal Norwegian sounding record with upbeat melodies, airy textures and crisp hi-hats transposed from Disco into the modern, digital age. “Visions of the Unknown” is Velferd’s third only release and it was released with an assemblage of quirky sci-fi-themed videos for each track. “Ventures” is the pièce de résistance on this release, but it’s worth the wait as you play through to rest of the record.

 

Luca Lozano, Telephones – Double Vision EP (Klasse Wrecks) 12″

Luca Lozano’s Klasse Wrecks has spawned a new concept: Pairing two producers on the same release with an original track and a remix from the counterpart. The first in the series features Lozano himself and Norwegian producer DJ Telephones.

Lozano does a trancy break-beat rendition of the Balearic sound on “Ibiza Bullshit Necklace”. A jittery harmonic refrain follows the apprehensive break-beat as stabs of synthesised horns interject the progression. Like a view of the beach from Café Del Mar through a glitching television screen, Lozano plays on the quitessential “Ibiza” sound here focussing on the artificial in a distinctly Luca Lozano way.

Telephones forces Lozano’s efforts into a more restrictive mould with a 4/4 House beat and the Norwegian softens the edges of Lozano’s original through some temperate pads, in a more rose tinted interpretation of the “Ibiza Bullshit Necklace”. He maintains that mood on his original, “Tonya vs. Nancy” with that unique DJ Telephones penchant for atmosphere very much at the heart of this release. It does however get a little repetitive, and Luca Lozano corrects that on the remix with what has become his trademark break-beat arrangements.

“Funnily the remixes on each side are the best tracks imo” says Tim Reade of Discogs, “Particular mention has to go to B2, Luca Lozano’s remix of Tonya vs Nancy. Total killer!” We agree with Mr. Reade here, although that’s not saying the originals are anything but good either.

 

DJ Fett Burger, Dj Candle In The Wind, Macho Macho Burito Band – “Feed Me” Take Out Vol.1 (B.L.A.D.) 12″

We’ve talked at length about this release a couple of weeks back, but now it’s available in the more affordable 12” format too. If you couldn’t see yourself forking out the whopping 400kr for the special limited edition of this Pizza Box record, you can now own it in a very demure and modest simple white cardboard sleeve.

 

Restive Plaggona – Unready To Exist (Sacred Court)12″

Well, we did say nearly Norwegian. Roland Lifjell sneaked this into the pile when we weren’t looking. Restive Plaggona is Dimitris Doukas, a producer most likely residing in Berlin, who has been making cinematic electronic music for imagined horror movie soundtracks over the last two years.

“Unready to Exist” is his first 12” after an incredible (almost impossible) run of tapes and LPs over the last two years as Restive Plaggona. The music draws some correlation to acts like Lumisokea, FIS and Vatican Shadow with a severe focus on sound design and approach music with the ear of an auteur. The introduction, ironically called “Bad Endings” makes a very potent, unsettling introduction that immediately establishes an air of tension that sticks to this record like a symbiotic host to its parasite.

It’s a record that comes just in time for Halloween, a record that will haunt your dreams with malevolent arpeggios and terrifying percussive motifs that strike at some primal fear in us all. Blood curdling tones cloud the record like a ghostly miasma, invoking the spirit of John Carpenter and Stephen King with a very 1980’s kind of sonic template suspended over a modern industrial foundation. It’s a record for dark nights and ominous moods.

 

A radical shift with Hugo LX

In recent years the name Hugo LX has been spoken in some reverational terms. Although the French producer and DJ – real name, Hugo Lascoux – had been making music for a long time under various aliases, he had found his niche in the world when he adopted the LX suffix and and channelled his musical experience into a House music project.

Although built on the foundation of House, it’s House with flavours of Jazz, Hip Hop and ambient music coalescing around the producer’s extensive musical experiences from Paris to Kyoto. Following a career that started when he was seventeen, collaborating with established figures like Large Professor or Diamond D, crafting jazz and funk infused grooves with a classic trademark SP1200 sound, Hugo took a sabbatical from music to work as an architect and moved to Japan by 2011 with a lifetime experience behind him.

It was there where he was inspired by the local music scene with Ambient, Jazz and eastern Hip Hop inspiring him to approach music again, this time as a solo artist, as Hugo LX. 2016 followed and it was a very productive year for the artist as he released four EPs and an album. He followed it up in  2017 with “Akegata”, an LP that installed him as a sincere and enduring artist with a special penchant for the long player format. Dense melodic vignettes float like oil on water, reflecting textures like rainbows that bounce over skipping beats.

There’s a serenity to his music as Hugo LX, smoothing over the polyrhythmic beats that bulge under the billowing surface of the synthesised and sampled textures. In 2018 Hugo LX found his way on Motor City Drum Ensemble MCDE records, introducing the French artist to entirely new audience. “Power”  from that release as it combines a strict four to the floor beat arrangement with brass horns and skittish extemporised melodies.

I sense a predilection for the dance floor on that track and release which Hugo dismisses as he reflects on it through an email exchange, before his upcoming appearance in our booth with Fredfades and Mutual Intentions. Through our Q&A session we find an amiable figure and a sincere music enthusiast with a beguiling personality. We talk radical musical shifts, eclectic musical influences and future works with Hugo LX. 

For most people your career is still in its infancy, but it actually goes back a while. Can you tell us a bit about your early music and how you moved over to Hugo LX?

It started with tapes! I used to tape everything I could; Saturday night radio shows, samples here and there, anything, really!

I still have boxes full of tapes in my storage room, I treasure them as it’s how I started. Then, I had the chance to be mentored a bit, by both DJ’s and Producers I would meet when going to the big city… I mean Paris. At the time I lived in a very remote town and access to music wasn’t so easy. Remember, it’s 2001, internet wasn’t that friendly yet!

It was not that easy to get records neither. So every time I could find a Pete Rock album, a Theo Parrish single, a MAW remix – Any piece of wax, CD, Cassette – It was a real joy. I was twelve or thirteen, filled with excitement for all that great music. That era, this excitement, that’s what I’m currently trying to retrieve and reflect through my upcoming album.And when I look back at it, it’s a dream came true, and a real blessing thaI i’m now meeting, sharing decks or even collaborating with some of the greats that I was listening to back then.

It was Jazz and Hip Hop in which you made your mark as a producer (even though you’d been listening to House music from a young age). When and how did House music make its way back  into your music?

I actually started producing house and hip hop at the same time, it would make no difference to me. It still doesn’t, I approach them with the same energy. I just focused on the hiphop side of it, as the early to mid 2000s were really inspiring, the indy labels, all these producers, our favorite MC’s touring heavily in Europe at that time.

Here, House music was turning into something I didn’t really feel, either too minimal or cheesy. Fortunately American producers held down the fort and never ceased producing gems. But in Europe, the art started fading a bit, then a lot. Then, around 2012 or 2013, while I was still mostly in Japan, I started hanging out again in those house parties.

I remembered one especially; DJ Spinna was playing at Air in Tokyo, and the music he was playing that night was exactly where I wanted to go, soundwise. A blend of electronic, dance, hiphop. That energy was something else! We spent a week there, searching for records and talking like music nerds, that definitely sparked something that would materialise a year or two after.And it’s funny, we finally ended up crafting some music together this year, it’s out soon.

I also have to credit local hero and house master Nick V for constantly pushing me to return to my house and broken beat roots. Salute to you uncle Nick!

You obviously channel a lot of Jazz and Hip Hop in your production. How does that usually happen?

It’s definitely a production thing. I grew up with this hip hop and jazz polyrhythmic patterns. It just stuck. And huge part of my collection is actually jazz and brazilian music. I always wanted to replicate those soundscapes a bit, paste them into some dance music.

Genres are just about separating groups of people, and records on shop shelves! Also, I could say that many of my favorite producers such as Spinna, Ge-Ology, Waajeed, Karizma, King Britt. They would incorporate this hiphop feeling, that swing, into their dance productions. As I definitely studied them, I sure felt inspired!

 

You’re not the first French producer that we’ve heard doing similar things. Is there something to the scene in France that particularly inspires this in your opinion?

I can’t really answer that as i hardly belong to that scene, my timing was different. When house started being trendy again here, I just wasn’t here. And when I was, my energy was focused on producing ambient stuff. Also, I’d like to mention I grew up being surrounded by elders. I would definitely identify with someone like Dj Deep, who’s 20 years my elder. I would see him and many other stars at the fantastic and now defunct 12inch shop circa 2002/2003. I would just stay there all afternoon and observe.

Cats today grew up in a different time span. We are the same age, but they might have a different process, different tools, different energy, and probably different visions of music. It just took me a long time to adapt, but I ended up meeting brilliant guys like Theo from La Mamie’s crew, Seiji Ono, Midori who owns the great Menace label. We connected through the energy of music, and similar sensibilities.

You’ve also lived in Japan where I’ve learnt that you were influenced by the Jazz and ambient music there. What was it about the Jazz there that you liked?

I spent quite some time there. Still do when I get time. I was privileged to land in the Kansai area, in Kyoto precisely. There was a tremendous ambient/electronica scene there, Rei Harakami (RIP), Chihei Hatakeyama, Susumu Yokota, many others every weekend performing at Urbanguild. I also digged crates, basements and thrift shops heavily there. Found a lot of gems, nobody was interested in at the time, and now it’s a big trendy market.

Japanese Jazz had a bunch of great innovators, Hino, Otsuka, Kikuchi. The whole urban soul/city pop too. That influenced my production and sense of texture. My deejaying too. Dj’s were playing jazz like we do house or techno. That was mind blowing. Production was on another level, many of my friends were crafting wonders, and also, J-Hiphop was prominent!

So I would go to clubs to listen Muro, DJ Jin, DJ Nori or the Okino Brothers grace the decks. That changed my life, really.

It’s said that you made a “radical shift” in your production style at that time. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

I found more freedom to be myself through music. The first year of your career, you are most often a copycat. Japan offered me a different take on music and on life too!

2016 was a big year for you. You released an album and 4 EPs in that same year. What happened during that year to encourage this flurry of releases?

I nearly stopped music in 2013 because my then project was shelved. I encountered a lot of huge disappointments and downfalls. With labels, fellow musicians, with myself maybe too! Music can isolate, truly, especially when demos get rejected and phone doesn’t ring anymore! I felt behind the wave of what was happening.

So I re-started it all. Opened a new folder and called it “LX Tracks”. Produced at least one track per day since. All that material finally started fleeing out of its container, naturally, hence the bunch of release in 2016.

I have to appreciate many great people came to give encouragement, support, and sometimes even offered deals. That’s how I connected Chez Damier, Patrice Scott, Kai Alce, and so many of those Djs I was, and still am a fan of. So maybe, I might still be behind the wave but at least  I now enjoy what I do, tenfold!

You followed it up in 2017 with Akegata, another LP and I’ve read reviews and pieces that really admire your skill when it comes to longer format. Between LPs and EPs how do you approach those differently and do you feel more adept at one over the other?

I approach singles or EPs the same way. It’s all storytelling, in various lengths and formats. But I might still write a narrative and craft interludes for a three track EP! As for Akegata, it was a five year process, I’m usually quick to produce but this one took forever to complete.

 

Your  MCDE records release, Desiderata is one of the most talked about releases of this year. How did that one came together and how is it that it found itself on that label?

Don’t know how it resonated through people yet, but I’m happy Ii made it. I was a bit frustrated not releasing any new works in 2017. We had some material ready since the previous year, but the label was idle and we finally scrapped the original EP, entirely! I still have these tracks though, might get them out one day. It was great to do it anyway, was happy to work with Danilo and Pablo, they are fine music connoisseurs!

Listening to the track Power, with that steady kick, it sounds like perhaps that this record is a bit more focussed on the dance floor than your previous EPs. Did you change your approach a little for Desiderata and how much influence did the label have on the way it sounded in the end?

Funny you say this, I thought that EP was more of listening piece, but I’m happy people play it here and there! I produced some that music using parts from very old sessions and trying to get them working together. Phone Games was a slow hip hop beat at first for instance. Power was a jam I did in a vocal room in London, messing with percussions and kalimbas. I have clear visions, but I don’t like to overthink music, though

There’s also some very esoteric Jazz samples on that track. How much does records and sampling play a role in your music?

It’s actually some live horn playing by Kansas City very own, Hermon Mehari.
But yes samples… It is a huge part of my world. Tape machines, and then samplers, are the first instruments I’ve learned. It is my stomping ground, and it renders a texture you just can’t duplicate in any other ways!

What do you usually look for in a record when you’re digging for a sample?

Warms vibes, strong or soothing energy, tight productions… sometimes all at once!

 

Is it the same when you’re looking for music to play in a DJ set, especially a club set like the one coming up at Jæger?

Totally, I try to get every sound colours altogether. There’s so much to play. As a DJ, I only adjust nuances!

I’ve been listening to your Worldwide FM mix, which is a radio mix, and most likely very different from the type of thing you’ll be doing in our booth. How would you describe your DJ sets in three words to bring this Q&A session to an end?

Open, Colourful, Spiritual (hopefully!)

Album of the week: Death Grips – Year of the Snitch

Death Grips are to the music industry what Banksy is to the art world. They have undermined their label Epic, releasing music for free over the web before the official release, provoking the industry at every turn possible from the artwork to their performances. They cancel shows and tours at a whim and when they do perform it’s usually with deprecating air of contempt on their faces. They’re constantly teetering on the edge of destruction, like when they dismantled the project while riding the immense wave of success that came after their third studio album “No Love Deep Web” only to reform again a few months later.

The California duo made up of vocalists MC Ride and drummer / producer Zach Hill are a volatile force that aggressively subvert expectations with an anachronistic attitude supplanted directly from Punk. Their recorded works  channel this into furious diatribes, a carousing cocktail of industrial, punk and electronic noise with dissident disdain while animalistic, primal performances deliver a glaring view from the side of their world through brutal noise, drenched in tension.

They’ve been actively recording and performing since 2010 with records like “Money Store” and “No Love Deep Web” receiving great critical acclaim and tracks like “I’ve seen footage” and “Guillotine”” taking some of the top honours in various best of lists through the years, only probably fuelling the group’s intense aversion for these institutions. After some much debated will-they-won’t-they through 2017, they’re back in 2018 with “Year of the Snitch”, their first record in two years, dispelling rumours that they’ve broken up again.

It’s officially their 6th studio album, but Death Grips have lost none of their edge, and have only grown more incensed it seems. Violent staccato guitars and jittering electronics fuel Zach Hill’s furious percussive onslaught while MC Ride delivers obtuse outbursts from his microphone like a young activist with nothing left to loose trying to incite a riot. There’s no peace to be found on “Year of the Snitch”, as the LP powers through 13 short, electronic Punk tracks, cutting through the quiet like a sharpened incisor violent tearing at the flesh. “Year of the Snitch” is Death Grips baring their teeth like never before.

There’s no knowing what inspired this album or fuelled their rage, the notoriously media shy band still refraining from fielding any nosy questions from reporters, but even if it’s just subconsciously, something gnaws at the current atmosphere of discontent spreading through the world. Everything Death Grips does, there’s always been some abhorrent socio-political undercurrent goading their fervour. Everybody said Punk would be the music that will soundtrack this new era of discontent, but few knew that it was already here and it was called Death Grips.

Premiere: Ivaylo – Trendy Jose (JT Donaldson Remix)

An exclusive listen to JT Donaldson’s Remix of Trendy Jose for Ivaylo’s upcoming America EP.

Bogota Records boss, Ivaylo returns to his own imprint after moonlighting on Cassy’s Kwench and Cymawax. America comes between a series of new releases with the Bulgarian/Norwegian producer, who is currently riding a new wave of creativity. It’s been a very productive year for the producer in the studio and it coincides with some changes in the way he approaches music. “The fundamental change would be the whole way how I structure a track now,” he told us via email, “evolving with strong focus on percussions and bass.”

When Ivaylo is not in the booth, he is escorting Jæger’s guest DJs around and with a birds-eye view of the dance floor every weekend, he’s adapted his music for the a  “new generation of people” who have grown up with this music. “For me all together (music, people, feelings, lifestyle even politics) is a stream of growing and changeable feelings, flow – you simply have to follow, be a part of it.”

The deepness, he’s always talked about continues to ebb through Ivaylo’s productions and it’s still an integral  part of this latest America release, but it follows a natural evolution in his work where Ivaylo has found a particular space “between sounds” on these recent pieces. “It gives me the freedom and creativity of involving more energy in my productions, in the form of percussive dynamic (programming drums) and still be able to combine my love for deepness.”

America comes with some tongue in cheek commentary on the state of American politics as two tracks “Jack’s Confusion” and “Trendy Jose” offer two views from either side of the… wall. “Jose is a Mexican and he likes it trendy”, says Ivaylo while “Jack is the American (obviously confused, nowadays)” in a very abstract summation of the “American” continent. Ivaylo left Jack untouched, but offered “Trendy Jose” to JT Donaldson for the remix treatment, with the Texan delivering”a warm and charming” deep dance floor cut for the EP that we’re streaming exclusively today.

Ivaylo and Donaldson share a long history with each other. The pair met “in the club” when the American DJ came over for a set to Bulgaria and a club called COMICS where Ivaylo was a resident and programmer. “JT was one of the first guys we brought from US, as well as one of the people who most touched Bulgarian clubbers and music lovers.” They’ve remained friends since, with long conversations abut their shared passion and together with Johnny Fiasco, JT Donaldson has been an ardent supporter of the Bogota Records label from the start. “The rest is history,” says Ivaylo and America is the latest chapter in that history.

America is out tomorrow via all major outlets on vinyl and on the 9th of November on digital formats. It’s one in a “bunch” of releases coming out soon that has seen Ivaylo working in the studio “full-time” this past year. “Some on a Norwegian label and a few for others,” he mentions without going into much detail. You can read an in-depth interview with Ivaylo here and we’ll continue to keep you posted on these future releases.

The cut with Filter Musikk

Freddy K once famously told us: “If you have a club with good resident DJ, that is culture.”  He went on to explain that this culture is also about the radio station that proliferates the music, the clothes you wear to identify and most importantly the place where you go to buy the music. Well, he didn’t say “most importantly”, but he might as well have. The record store is still the bastion of any good DJ culture today. Some of them might have moved online, but most still peddle their wares out of a physical store. In Oslo there is only one place that fits that profile and that is Filter Musikk

It’s Oslo worst kept secret and also somehow the city’s richest trove of hidden musical treasures. It lives beyond the media hype of the moment with records carefully selected by proprietor and DJ, Roland Lifjell. Years of hands-on experience and the wisdom only age can bring, supplies Oslo on a near-weekly basis with some of the best, new music around.

A stalwart in the Oslo DJ community, Roland doesn’t merely play us the records we want to hear, he is the invisible force behind the soundtrack of the weekend in the city. That barely audible din that you hear sweeping across the city every Friday and Saturday night, that’s Roland Lifjell; the record you hear only once, but you can’t shazam or find on the internet the next day, that’s most likely hidden on a shelf in Filter Musikk; and that sound of the future or the familiar melody of a distant past, they all converge on a premises in Skippergata.

That is culture, or at least a vital part of this culture. The club would be nothing without a place to buy the records and the records would have nowhere to go without the discerning tastes of the record store owner. The record store, for many is still a place for new musical discoveries and re-acquaintances with old favourites.

Some of these you’ll find on-line, but most of them are often saturated by the excessive releases that dominate the release cycles and the only place you can siv through the muck to get to the gold, is still a record store like Filter Musikk. Here’s Filter Musikk’s cut of some of the best releases that arrived during this week.

 

Mr. G – That Cold Sweat EP (Phoenix G.) 12″

We just can’t get too much of a good thing, and while many of us are still reeling from Mr. G performance in Jæger’s basement from last Friday, Filter Musikk sneaked in a copy of That Cold Sweat EP to keep the momentum going. It’s a limited release produced specifically for record store day and if you were in our basement, you might remember one or two tracks from his set.

Mr. G has his thing down pat. There’s nobody in House music that can touch Mr. G’s sound. It’s a mixture of his experience as a sound-man a DJ and a digger that converge on his MPC. Jacking beats and well-directed samples make up the crux of this EP again with music made for DJs. Having said that, “Flex” throws up a bit of a surprise with that downtempo beat and filter bass. It’s just more of G-thang, a good thing.

 

Thomas P. Heckmann – Body Music Remixes (Monnom Black) 12″

Thomas P Heckmann released one of the most pithy records of 2018 and yet very few people picked up on it. It was a powerful display of Techno, Electro and EBM and while everybody was trying themselves in the popularity of Industrial, No-Wave, EBM, Heckmann released an album that put them all to shame.

Body Music was a master class in the fundamental ideology of Techno from the German producer and while it should have dominated the genre this year, it was largely ignored by the “savvy” world music media. Possibly it was just too good, and anything else released this year as a Techno, EBM, Electro album  just pales in comparison.

Coming via his Monnom Black label in a shade of red that would make Brett Kavanaugh blush, it’s a release that should come with a health warning, because if you are in any way predispositioned to vascular illnesses, DAX J’s opener will certainly not bode well for you. There’s no mild-mannered kick-snare introduction here. It’s Rob Zombie getting his hands on a 303, a rollercoaster that starts at the peak… It’s what Techno should sound like.

Heckman brings Karl O’Connor (Regis) and Simon Shreeve (Mønic) back together as Cub for a remix of “Acid Head” and gets CJ Bolland to put his spin on that track too. It’s good to hear the Horrorist on there too, one of Techno’s most sincerely underappreciated artists. He’d been away for some time, but since 2016 has been very active again, staking his rightful claim as one of the the genre’s most unique artists alongside Heckmann. He’s clearly still got it on the remix of “Departure”. Thomas P. Heckmann’s Body Music is the album that just keeps on giving.

 

Mesak – Kisko Kisko EP (Roots United) 12″

Yet another Finnish Electro export. Mesak(also known by Velcro Fastener) is one of the more fluid Electro artists out there today. Incorporating elements of abstract electronica in his works, his EP’s can go from IDM to ambient, but on “Kisko Kisko”, he’s electro close to the Electro denomination.

There’s DJ Overdose and Mono Junk on here too just to bolster the association in case there was any doubt. Mono Junk appears as a vocalist on “EBT”, and that’s a curiosity in itself. There’s a weird glitchy nature to Mesak’s music which takes some time to warm to, but once you get around the jagged edges of the tracks, his music intrigues and he puts a very unique stamp on his interpretation of this style of music.

The DJ Overdose remix of “Kisko” is more traditional in comparison if you’re looking for that kind of thing, by why settle for the obvious?

 

Joan Bibiloni Band – The Boogie (Sotofett remix) (Saft) 12″

It’s a reissue of the obscure Disco classic by the Joan Bibiloni Band. We love reissues, it really sticks it to those Discogs speculators, hoarding rare records and not even listening to them. They’re like hedge fund managers of the music industry who in turn are like the black eyed peas of the finance industry… just really the worst people.

This reissue comes with a really abstract interpretation of the original from Sex Tags man, Sotofett. The Norwegian producer tears the original arrangement apart and rips open a hole to some alternative dimension. Warping delays and scattered fragments of vocal snippets ebb and flow between the bass guitar line and the only semblance of some sanity throughout the track.

It’s a remix for the adventurous DJ and an audience with an open mind, but if there’s always the a-side for the more conservative Disco fan.

 

Timothy J. Fairplay – DX Marks The Spot EP (Body Works) 12″

Timothy J Fairplay is the eponymous moniker of Junior Fairplay, who we mentioned right here on this feature some weeks ago. Here he straps on a keytar with one hand while manipulating a bulky drum machine with another for a synth wave release on Body Works.

“DX Marks the spot” might be some reference to the Oberheim DX drum machine, and it certainly like sounds like that on the title track with a kick that is screaming to break out from the speaker. Sequence synths running parallel with percussion while melodies and pads pile on in extreme eighties subtlety, infuses retro sound design with a modern minimalism throughout this release.

The EP conforms to this formula, but each track makes its own impression with unique melodies coaxed from some ghostly miasma lingering your conscious some time after. It’s a full-bodied release and “PHANTOM GUARD DOGS OF CHOMOLUNGMA” particularly resonates for its ghoulish charm. What’s your favourite?

 

Olefonken does the Alumni Mix

The Frædag and Jæger resident heads over to Red Bull Music Radio to do the alumni mix.

Leisure Suit Larry goes on Hurtigruten in Olefonken’s mix for the energy drink’s online radio channel. A quirky mix from the mind of an eccentric artist, the Hubbabubbaklubb musician combines outlier pieces with a particular melodic and ambient disposition.

A soothing collection of tracks spanning the 1980’s to the present, Olefonken’s music