Last week I caught up with Ant TC1 to talk about his Outlook experiences and to find out the latest on his acclaimed Dispatch imprint. This week sees the release of the latest Dispatch E.P headed up by Amoss.
The duo have been making music together since their school days and since their debut release in 2010 have solidified their position in drum and bass as a promising young talent.The State Of Suspension E.P featuring four tracks - five tracks if you're going for the digital version - includes a collaboration with Italian Dabs, and is a worthwhile addition to their back catalogue.
Personal highlights for me are the tracks Tikkd and Shapeshifter. Both contain an element of neurofunk groove, which harks back to the releases responsible for first getting Amoss excited about electronic music. Pure bass weight and crisp production on the drums cement the tracks position as club destroyers.
Latch and Rollpipe come at the E.P from a slightly different angle, toning down the neurofunk influences but not losing any of their dance floor impact. Overall an E.P which slots perfectly into the Dispatch Sound and will certainly be receiving some air play on the Dispatch boat party this september.
The first long player from Italian ARP XP was released just weeks ago on the IM:LTD imprint based in France. ARP XP is a successful graphic designer, and has been a resident DJ at one of drum and bass's most exotic festivals since the start, namely Sun & Bass, which explodes onto the island of Sardinia every September.
As well as DJing and designing he has been producing for a long time now, and took the decision to produce an album over a twelve month period. The result is Closer. 12 tracks, which span across the tempos, dipping into drum and bass and dubstep as well as making a small foray into the world of bass music. ARP XP took a lot of time to produce Closer and it's evident from the quality and versatility of it's track listing, that his work did not go to waste.
A few of my personal highlights from the LP are the album title track Closer, featuring Estel Luz, which is just a straight up catchy song. Surrealism, which pops up towards the end of the album with some straight up roller goodness, and finally, the only track on the album, which goes below the 140BPM mark. Something's Wrong adds a contemporary feel to the album, fitting nicely in with the current trend towards techno, house sounding beats.
The album feels quite slow to begin, but has a strong atmosphere, which runs throughout the track list. There's a video for Closer as well.
Closer is out now on IM:LTD and available to buy from all good record shops.
The slightly slower - in terms of BPM - and younger sister of Texan based drum and bass label Warm Communications comes in the form of Pushing Red, which despite it's youthfulness has managed to build a strong foundation of quality dance music over the last couple of years. The latest release came out on digital and vinyl on Monday. Hands Tied and That Shine: two productions from Until Silence, which is the alter ego of Autonomic producer Mode. Both sides of the record demonstrate a contradictory aspect of Until Silence's solid production skills. For me the favourite has to be hands tied. The vocal has something there, which had me coming back from the start. You can check out a top 10 by Until Silence on Track It Down here ... and preview the release on Soundcloud below.
The number of festivals on Croatia's Adriatic coast seems to be on an exponential rise, and rightly so. The combination of gorgeous weather and great dance music at a much more reasonable price than many UK festivals can't fail to impress. This year the team behind Outlook, one of the biggest Croatian offerings, surprised everyone by announcing a second festival at the same stunning site, to take place the following week. Say hello to Dimensions.
The music on offer is of a more refined and stripped down nature than its sister Outlook, featuring artists from the darker, minimal side of dubstep and drum and bass- such as Exit Recordings and Tectonic- and throwing in a collection of some of the biggest names in the Techno & Bass Music spectrum such as Levon Vincent, Boddika and Carl Craig. This all takes place in the iconic Fort Punta Christa, undoubtably one of the finest festival sites in the world.
As for Mancunian representation you can check Dub Phizix, Akkord, Synkro, Indigo, Versa, Lone, Zed Bias and Bane. There are stages and boat parties curated by our good friends at Eastern Bloc Records and Selective Hearing which are sure to be excellent. Check out the Dimensions site for all the info about tickets travel and accommodation, along with guest mixes to whet your appetite.
In the meantime the Selective Hearing guys are hosting the Manchester and Leeds launch parties for Dimensions to get you in the mood: You can catch 2562, Indigo and Tom Diciccio, along with Versa, Bane and more at Islington Mill in July. In Leeds they have Pariah, Akkord and Guy Andrews playing on Friday 8th June.
If you can't make the parties,check this mix from Night Owl to get you started!
Last year’s FutureEverything festival was a great highlight for me. The festival organisers curate something special and, although I went to every gig with almost no clue about the artists, I managed to leave every one without disappointment.
This year I took a similar view to the situation, I knew a few of the names, especially one Amon Tobin (more on him later), but I trusted the organisers would come up with the same levels of quality as in previous years. In fact they surpassed them.
Everything kicked off on the Wednesday evening with two shows in a row at the Islington Mill, just on the edge of Salford. This was my first trip to the venue and I have to say I was impressed. Good sound quality and reasonably priced ‘Estrella’ on tap, there’s not much more I’d ask for in a venue! The opening show was from ‘Shabazz Palaces’, a hip hop duo from Seattle. They produced a blend of the 808 beats and Southern US drawl which seems to be the flavour of the month in US hip hop but combined it with unusual tribal and syncopated percussions and vocal layers to give them a unique sound. I’d draw the inevitable comparision to Outkast ie, good tunes & slightly unusual.
The venue then took a darker turn down more electronic avenues with a show from the elusive Andy Stott and Deadbeat. Andy Stott played out an hour of evolving warped electronica, commencing with about 10 minutes of drones and tones, but then building up with relentless beats and melody. It was an impressive listen but unfortunately, a boring spectacle, watching a stoic, expressionless face hunched over a laptop just doesn’t appeal. I’ll go into the bar-raising of ‘live’ shows later though. Deadbeat took things up a notch with some decent visuals and a bit more energy, it may have been a less ‘chinstroking’ set musically but my chin had had enough by then anyway.
On day two of the festival the same venue saw a showcase from Tri Angle Records – a New York based label with a distinct sound which is growing in popularity. Their releases, although varied, have a tendency to nod towards a hip-hop/R&B influenced electronic style, some with a more experimental and ambient twist. The Haxan Cloak took things way off in to the left field by building soundscapes and atmosphere over a half hour journey whilst Evian Christ and Holy Other shook the building’s foundations with bouncing, slow-paced bass. It was similar to dubstep but fresh sounding enough that I will probably offend some people by saying that.
Friday saw a big shift in styles as the New Sounds of the North showcase hit an empty office block in Spinningfields. Put together by hipster magnets Now Wave, we got a bill featuring bands from debutants ‘No Ceremony’ to current next big things ‘Money’ and ‘Alt-J’ but, although the venue was an intriguing and well used space, its infancy shone through in the sound quality. Unless you were right at the front (and why wouldn’t you be) a muddiness and lack of clarity became apparent.
‘No Ceremony’ gave me visions of new romantic bands of the 80s, their first tracks being electro-disco influenced and energetic, unfortunately it wasn’t kept up throughout and the set descended to some fine shoegazing which seemed a let down. ‘Money’, described by Mary Anne Hobbs as her new favourite band, were next up and took their show beyond the standard with superbly projected visuals. The images echoed the music wonderfully conjuring thoughts of space, life and our universal insignificance. They’re taking a hiatus to work on a debut LP now but keep an eye out for their return, I have a feeling it’ll be a bit special. Topping off this line-up were ‘Alt-J’ (aka, that little triangle symbol that Akkord use), a band about to surf a debut album through the waves of hype surrounding them. They we’re full of energy and it showed through the crowd, the music was rapture-esque with a more electronic twist and it was a great finish.
A quick taxi back to Islington Mill brought me back into the arms of Mind On Fire and the act was most excited to see that evening – DJ Cheeba. After concerns about the previous venues sound it was a relief to see Jonny from Neuron Pro Audio manning the sound desk at the Mill, bass and clarity were top notch all night! DJ Cheeba’s high reputation lie in his A/V sets, he seamlessly blends music and video clips to create a truly multimedia experience. Full of energy and transcending from Hip Hop to House to Jungle he made the job of juggling both beats and visuals look easy; truly an inspiration to DJs and a demonstration of where DJ skill can go in the 21st century – step away from the laptop! The Solid Steel selector finished his set with a fitting tribute to the late Adam Yauch and Donna Summer which was very well received.
As the final day of the festival came around it was still building to a fitting finale. This year’s headliner was Ninja Tune’s ‘Amon Tobin’ who had brought his ‘ISAM: Live’ show up to the Manchester Academy. Anybody with an interest in electronic music, especially any DJ who’s ‘live’ show is standing in front of a laptop for an hour, needs to see this show. The stage appears like a game of Tetris going horribly wrong, a series of oddly stacked cubes, but when the show starts the visuals are projected up in perfect time with the weighty mechanical beats. It seems as the stage changes and becomes a living entity, moving twisting cubes, volcanic rocks, turning into a spaceship and flying through the cosmos. No words are going to describe it well enough, no pictures could portray it effectively and even videos don’t convey the immersiveness of this show. It simply has to be experienced. This truly raised the bar for music as a whole and the next FutureEverything will struggle to match it!
Before the door closed on the festival for another year it was time for Selective Hearing to close the proceedings once again. Their show last year with Daedalus and Martyn was my highlight and this year they approached it with even more ambition, bringing Berghain legend Marcel Dettman to the Academy 3, along with stellar support from the likes of Levon Vincent, Pinch and John Talabot. Vincent kicked things off and was really good but everyone was there to see the German in a rare Mancunian appearance and it really showed once he got going. There was a three hour journey which went to some dark and wonderful places. I felt a little bad for the lack of a crowd Pinch had to play to, especially as he was bringing some Swamp81 and Tectonic fire, but its not often you get to witness techno on the scale Marcel Dettman brings it.
After 6 gigs in 4 days I had seen so much brilliant music and that is why FutureEverything is so good. Their choices can always be trusted to demonstrate the true scope of modern music and bring artists to Manchester who are truly pushing the boundaries of what we expect in a performance. I hope they go one better next year, but with Amon Tobin I think they’ve hit a very high pinnacle!
As festivals have increased in popularity massively over the past 10 years, so have the prices of tickets and the number of knobheads who attend for the sole purpose of drinking as much Carling as possible and slurring along to the Futureheads or David Guetta. This, in turn has made line-ups much more commercial and the increased extortion of festivals like Leeds and V is now beyond sickening.
So true music fans have to dig deeper to find a gem of a weekend.
We believe such a gem has been unearthed this year with the debut of Mifest – a Friday/Saturday festival to take place in Mid-August near Wrexham for a mere £55. Yeah, £55 (inc Camping!), nearly ¼ the price of some of the big festivals. Now check the line-up.
The guys at Mifest, along with Selective Hearing, have brought together a line-up of heavy bass hitters like Benga, High Contrast and Camo & Krooked and forward-thinking electronica including Joy-O, Loefah, Disclosure and Night Slugs. There are still a couple of big surprises to be announced too. Shadow!
The festival is run by a three man team from Chester/Wrexham who have moved from running large, sell-out events in the city to this festival nearby. Its testament to their commitment to its excellence that they actually postponed the 2011 festival in order to ensure their preparation was perfect. Promoter Benito told me, “We are about establishing ourselves as THE festival to be at in our area this summer, ensuring everyone has an amazing time and of course making everything run smoothly so it's finely tuned and ready to grow and get even better with years to come.”
Boy London, for the less fashion conscious reader, is a UK based fashion label, popular with celebrities, and, according to the internet, gay guys. It's been around for years and has recently been sported by the likes of Rihanna when she appeared on Jonathon Ross as well as a host of other celebrities in long past decades. From an aesthetic standpoint the label is minimalistic and relies on the use of bold typefaces and the completely normal consistent usage of the national socialist eagle emblem, which as far as I can tell nobody seems to mind about.
The label was borne out of the success of Stephane Raynor's Kings Road clothes boutique, which opened in the late 70's. Boy, supposedly fuelled on a desire for reinvention and innovation, managed to gain some traction amongst celebrities such as Madonna, Andy Warhol in the 80's and gained a reputation as an iconic label. The brand even expanded to a parisian club night in the early 80's. But Boy London fizzled out through the 90's and could only be found in charity and vintage shops. In 2008 the brand was relaunched to critical acclaim.
Boy London rose out of the punk era and from it's outset used numerous images to do with nazi Germany. One of the earliest t shirts produced included a silk-screen print of a Hitler portrait and later shirts included the Swastika and eagle. Early designs didn't remove the swastika held by the eagle, but later designs left an empty circle in it's place. In 2008 when the label relaunched the nazi symbols returned and it looks as though they are here to stay.
It's times like this when I am probably writing beyond my capabilities. I don't have the relevant knowledge of Freud or whoever to really analyse why Boy London uses nazi symbols in it's designs or what effect it has on people or Society. In answer to the first question as far as I can tell, unless Stephane Raynor, supports Nazi ideology, the symbols have been used simply to get a reaction. However I wasn't alive in the late 70's to gauge the reaction to the designs the first time they came round, but I'm sure some sort of dusty liberal had something to say about it. Regardless of the garments' reception in the 70's and 80's I think the majority of people wearing Boy London today aren't aware of the political, moral and social motives behind the designs' original conception and I would hazard a guess that the 2012 Rihanna fan, who picks up some Boy London leggings is not aware that they are walking around with a militaristic extreme right wing logo on their legs, which represents a fascist government responsible for arguably one of the greatest human atrocities in our history. I would love to see the sales statistics for Boy London in Germany, where the usage of these symbols is illegal. It seems strange that Lady Gaga wearing a dress out of meat makes people stamp their feet and shake their fists, but Rihanna grinding on Jonathon Ross covered in fascist political symbols is fine. Maybe we should bring out a range of new era caps with some cool rascist insignia on or a range of communist flip flops.
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