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.