There’s something starkly mathematical about Eduardo de La Calle’s haunting new production that I can’t quite put into words. Maybe it’s down to the sheer brute, electrical force that ignites its machine generated grooves, or maybe it is the way I’m plugged into listening. Either way this is a brisk, grainy experience that never falls short of feeling intriguing, compelling even, in all sorts of excellent ways. One of which I imagine is a reference to the classical minimal composers such as Steve Reich on the brilliant, Amplitude Morphology. The brutal architectures of Echo Reminders follows with stabbing keys illuminating an unforgiving tomorrow. Leaving, Tribute to Scott Roggo feeling the funkiest of the three – if that’s the appropriate word – channelling classic Acid notation across eight minutes of unquestionable pleasure.
A stunning production of music from relative newcomer Thales Boutroumlis. Beginning with the title track, Perpetual which positively simmers with the sort of energy to tempt you into oblivion this release for Poker Flat hits all the right notes reaching for hints of melody and proportion, while actively exploring an array of electronic sensory delight. Capturing the imagination is key here as the sounds create a wealth of images in the mind but these are never far from the drums that fuel movement either. The equally impressive, Aether follows this time with tougher basslines igniting the airwaves while resolutely brisk drums take care of the rest amid the pulses of Acid. Excellence.
Another great release of energy from Roush. This time it’s the turn of Spanish producer/ DJ’s Disaia who deliver their trademark sounds via a fiery, engaging rush of emotionally charged rhythm and melody. Just the one version to contend with here, but then this says it all as it is. Tough drums, insistent hi-hats plus rolling, fierce bass do all the work as soulful vocals provide the icing to the already generous prize.
Six years may seem like a long time to wait, and it is, but here we are with the launch of Sid Le Rock’s beautifully realised new album: Scenic Route. What strikes you instantly is the playful sense of fun that the tracks are infused with, as in it sounds like this was a pleasure to create and then to record for the artist. Accompanied by the excellent singles Slowpoke and Hiraeth the album is an exploration of simmering electronics which at times feels deftly funky, at others probing questioning the nature of things, such as on Morgenfrisk. The brilliantly titled, Mud Puppy is one of the more introspective, deeper tracks which provides a neat contrast as part of the listening experience. Then there’s the punchy Acid of Eggo, or the breezy melodies of First Kiss (Vanilla Edit) to choose from too. With an expanded running time of sixty minutes it’s fair to say that all corners of sonic pleasure are tested and in turn this fifth album is a very welcome addition to the number.
I like Edgar De Ramon’s no-frills yet compelling and completely exciting approach to creating music. Answer, poses questions via its edgy voice over which is underpinned by the single word, Acid – so you may guess at what it’s all about. Musically it’s pounding, repetitive and brutally funky. And is accompanied by a hand-clap fuelled acapella in the form of the Tool Mix, plus a second track, Justify which plays friskier, fizzy rhythms over yet more probing and energetic escapades in stereo. It’s all first rate and is the artist’s first release on his own new imprint, TUTU. Which by the way is also providing a percentage of the release to the worthy organization ‘Provocant La Pau’.
With cynicism and self-interest all the rage nowadays it is easy to forget there was once something else to occupy all your precious time, exciting perspectives both inwards and outwards towards the world, alongside the people that surrounded you. Looking back from the gaze of popular myth Punk has become such a loaded word now that it is almost outweighed by its own definition. It either means a bloated accumulation of vomit or spit, defined by acting dumb, restoratively repeating the same clichés… or by a more positive shout against things you want to see actively changed, which was about being forward-thinking and constructive – more about liberating thoughts, not confining them. The formers’ meaning has been swallowed up by the lazy journalism stating that in the race towards a nostalgic nirvana there really only was one, or maybe two, bands which really counted in the grand scheme of the promised rebellion. The question deserves to be asked in that process: why have Crass largely been ignored in the re-telling of Punk history? Especially given that like every other movement, or collection of ideas centred on youth, the passage of time alongside the mainstream of public consciousness absorb, soften and twist the original meaning to suit their own needs. Rendering moments as fashion accessory, or worse still advertising soundtracks selling corporate product. After all, it’s easy to package anger as good for business, adding clicks to the bait. Those independent, DIY train of thoughts which had traversed all of the important points in time from The Beats through to House Music’s original spirit are as keenly relevant now as then. And through the passage of time it is Crass who have remained most closely bound to those ideals. In today’s world it seems almost inconceivable that a group of people would actually bother to take the time to form a union of political ideas, coupled with fiercely demanding music to ask and probe at questions which were just as important to any concept of age. In one word, Crass.
Like no other UK band from that original era, begining in the late seventies, what was said was meant. What was played was also meant. You never get to question integrity: Or are they selling out? Or they too commercial now? Are they just rehashing the same old dream? Are they simply generating money? Are the headlining Glastonbury? What happened to the original ideal? These questions never got to be asked because none of them applied. The band stopped in 1984. And all of that is something quite unique in the days of money counting for everything and where popularity contest is a welcome game.
In one sense Crass were initially musically defined and limited by the angry growl that Punk shot against the world of boredom and conformity. Perhaps neatly summed up by: Do they owe us a living? Of course they fucking do! But that first blur of anger soon gave way to something more creatively and sonically stimulating. Listen to the opening Asylum on The Feeding Of The 5000 with its brutal combination of freeform feedback and pointed words for a start. Or their John Cage inspired use of ‘silence’ amid the virulent thrashing of They’ve Got a Bomb. They were different to almost everyone else at the time, not just because they fused ideas and modes of living together with a particular way of delivering that musically, but also you were extremely unlikely to see them bothering TOTP live, via video, or otherwise at anytime. Unlike many of their contemporaries they weren’t pretending not to be popstars under cover of a fake story.
Stations Of The Crass and Feeding Of The Five Thousand (The Second Sitting) were their first two studio album releases, with the irony of Best Before 1984 forming a compilation of some of their most cherished numbers.
The point of these re-releases is twofold. You can now hold physical copies of either CD or the freshly pressed Vinyl, not something which has been was available to experience unless you sought out the originals’ second-hand. You will also get to unfold the accompanying life sized artwork in your hands, which formed an integral part of the story of sounds and visuals. Plus, that you have the promise of the music sounding as it was conceived, stripped free of the production process’s applied decades ago. Working with One Little Indian Records this first in a series of re-releases have been remastered by Alex Gordon along with Penny Rimbaud at Abbey Road Studios.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Steve. You are about to unleash the labels 99th release: Selador Showcase – 8th Wonder, which features new music from several different artists. Can you talk us through how you choose the tracks for the compilation – what specifically makes a production right for Selador?
10 new tracks, all from different artists. We make a ‘showcase’ approx every 9 months, a various artist release of tunes that we like. It’s a good mixture of Selador artists and new faces to the label. We find a lot of people who release on the showcases deliver more tracks for EP’s later on, so it works really well for us. Dave and I often have tracks on these releases too.
Our only criteria for signing a track, is that Dave and I both like it and would play it. We don’t really have musical boundaries. It’s just music we like and would play, which is why some of our output is so varied. Over the years we’ve had music from Jimpster to dubspeeka, Danny Howells to Sasha Carassi, Joeski to Wally Lopez, Cristoph to Pirupa, and so many more. We don’t play one particular style of music when DJ-ing, and so we sign tracks that work for us, that we like. It’s a PR man’s nightmare trying to categorise us… but to us it just seems right.
For this release we had been sent just about all of the tracks as demos, and a few of our label friends we messaged to let them know we had a release and can they make something for us. It’s very useful being able to test the music out in clubs, in its natural environment, as sometimes tracks you like, suddenly become tracks that you love!
The release also features a great track from yourself: Michelada. How was the track produced and can you tell us about the studio set-up you use?
This one was a very unusual affair. It started off as a remix a year or so ago for another label, but then due to label problems, they still hadn’t released a year later. I’d started making it with Paul Nolan, who engineered it for me. It was made with Ableton, push 2 and a shed load of plug in’s and Paul’s technical knowhow. I know how to produce a bit, but I find my workflow so much faster working with an engineer. It’s also great to hear advice from a producer, and somebody to bounce crazy ideas off, that’s sometimes work! Ableton for me is very good, as I’m a ‘fiddler’ when making music. I try something, and then adjust it to see how it sounds. I drive engineers crazy. But sometimes it’s that fiddling and tweaking that can elevate a track.
I say it started as a remix and with Paul engineering, however a year later and as I say the remix hadn’t been released. I’d always wished it was an original track. Paul had started working on his own projects and his album, and I started working with Jay Gilbert at Scrutton Street Studios in Shoreditch, and I asked the label could I take the parts out from the remix, and make the track my own… and a few days later with Jay, this is what came out! Again a similar set up with jay to Paul and Ableton the DAW of choice. And some more fiddling.
So basically a remix that became an original, engineered by two different people.
You are also offering a DJ mix alongside the tracks. How would you describe the art of DJ’ing in 2019? And how would you compare it with the past?
The digital age has changed D J-ing a lot. The equipment has aided the DJ a lot. The ability to loop, use FX, basically re-edit the track on the fly has certainly helped my style of DJ-ing so much. I absolutely love using CDJ 2000’s and Pioneer mixes when playing out. It suits my style of DJ-ing. I DJ in a progressive style. I don’t think that I am a progressive house DJ, as I don’t think I actually play ‘progressive’… but I start at one point and like to build, to increase the energy as the set is flowing. It’s great for adding cheeky fills and FX on the fly.
DJ-ing for me has always followed that pattern. Even since I was a mobile disco DJ at weddings and the likes. I knew to start subtle and the evening should flow. Much in the same way, you wouldn’t go and see your favourite band, and they lay all of the big tunes early in the set and then leave you a bit underwhelmed. Musical programming is an art. I am a geeky nerd with stiff like that. I use to stand and study DJ’s in clubs like Cream for years.
I think other musical genres don’t have this musical flow so much, and its ‘let’s play as many big tunes in a row’. If it works for them cool, but its juts not how I like to do things when I play.
Can you tell us about how you first got into Dance Music, which were the most important clubs for you at the time, and how would you describe the club culture in Liverpool today? (Where can people get to hear you play?)
I wanted to be a radio DJ. I was about 13. I had no idea what it entailed, but it looked great. This was about 84’ish. Around then I was listening to a hand full of radio shows on BBC radio Merseyside. James Klass who played Hip Hop and the likes and Terry Lenanine ‘Keep On Truckin’ (and then later Kenny James who presented that show). I was buying Electro albums, and had discovered listening / watching DMC mixing championship videos!
As time went by, must have been 86/87 my friend Rick Houghton got a Mcgregor double deck system, and we started doing mock radio shows and running mobile disco’s. I spent all of the money I earnt buying records that I loved and building up my classic disco/soul collection and of course this new stuff to me called house music.
I ended up stalking radio DJ’s like Kenny James and Pete Waterman, and used to go and sit in on their radio shows, it was amazing! I was this fresh faced kid (no chance of me getting in to clubs) watching live radio shows and chatting to the presenters and learnt so much.
The label is following all this with release number 100, again featuring a number of impressive artists. Tell us about what it means for you and Dave Seaman to reach that milestone?
It felt like it was a thing to celebrate, it’s quite an achievement I suppose in this day and age to hit 100 releases. Its never been about the money for us running a label, which is a good job really..! It’s certainly a labour of love. Another string to your bow so to speak. And so it seemed right to make a big thing of it.
What is quite odd, is that I still feel like we are a fairly new label – time flies when you’re having fun I suppose. This is my first label, and so I’m constantly learning. I’d done a lot of things in the music industry, but it was the label that was the big one for me, the thing that eluded my musical and I love doing it. And I know Dave does too. We both wish we could spend more time running the day to day things, but we both sandwich the work for the label in between our other jobs and family life, which I suppose thinking about it, makes the achievement of 100 releases quite a milestone.
So we thought we needed to light a bit of a firework with this one – so we used 5 tracks from our 5th birthday release – where we asked lots of artists to collaborate to make us a track – and we hand-picked some of those gems, and got some hot new remixes made, which all in all ends up being a rather big team assembled to help us celebrate.
Andre Hommen and D-Nox & Beckers remixed Mine and Dave’s ‘Repeat Offender’, Doc Martin remixed Gorge & Joeski’s ‘Jogo’ track, Petar Dundov remixed Luke Brancaccio & Tim Healeys ‘I Hear Voices’, and Moonwalk have remixed Cristoph & Quivvers ‘In Name Only’, and Kotellet & Zadak have remixed Guy Mantzur & Lonya’s gem ‘Dynasty’, which aint too shabby a collection of musical friends if we do say so ourselves.
How do you feel about the overall quality of electronic music, given the competition generated by the internet and the easy access people now have to becoming producers etc?
It’s a double edged sword – there is so much terrible music, on half-baked labels with no quality control, made by people who don’t know much about making a tune, who don’t make it sound good, and use pre-sets galore and loops, with shoddy artwork and no promotion – which is all fine – however those said artists get annoyed when their music doesn’t do well.
You have to put the effort in. You don’t have to release every track you make. You don’t have to throw out half-baked ideas. You make a statement when you release a track – as an artist, a label and a remixer. It’s your musical legacy. I have tracks that are finished that are decent but I won’t release as they don’t reach the standard that I want to achieve.
I said it was a double edged sword – as on the other hand, there is so much great new music coming, that it is overwhelming. Week by week there is enough great new music lands to almost completely change your set. Masses of the stuff. And across genres too. Especially for somebody like me who like Hot Toddy’s nu-disco grooves, Patrice Baumels dancefloor energy and drive, Jon Hopkins chilled flavours, Matadors epicness, and Renato Cohens dirtiness. There’s so much, it’s difficult to keep up, but what a lovely problem to have!
On a personal level producing wise, it makes me really push myself to put the additional work in. If you don’t think your music can compete alongside this great music we have in abundance, then there’s no point releasing it.
You also run SMP3 Music Promo and SMP3 Music Management. Can you tell us about those and the other things you are involved with? How would you describe a typical working day (or night)?
Its music all day and every day for me. I run SMP3 Music promo – i work with 40+ labels, and new ones starting weekly, getting the music they release to handpicked DJ’s that are suited t the music for that specific release. It’s a skill I learnt working in record shops. The personal touch, it makes a lot of difference to the DJ, who is more likely to react to a promo if they know I only send them suitable music… and so better for the label, as this gets them better DJ feedback. I work with Sudbeat, Selador, Hope/Soundgarden, Replug, babiczstyle for the melodic vibes… Oscillate, Frau Blau, New Violence and Yousefs Carioca for the deeper stuff and a whole stack more.
I also use my same trainspotter / record shop skills in another part of my job – I am a music sourcer for Sasha, Dave Seaman, Behrouz and Sander Kleinenberg, where I basically find them music to play each week. I sold them all music when I worked in 3 Beat – so it’s basically the digital version of that. I listen to promos, chase labels for exclusives and buy at Beatport plus vinyl at 3B records to find the freshest new music for these guys. I’m not picking what they are playing – I am just filtering down the best new music weekly, much ion the same way I gave them a stack of vinyl to check each week when I was in 3 Beat.
Then I have my weekly radio show on Bliss Radio called ‘The Factory’, so i spend time putting that together, and it’s something that I Love doing. I love live radio. I love chatting about music and mixing live, I have always found it very exciting. Maybe when I finally grow up, it’s what I’d like to do all day every day, a full time radio DJ… but obviously I’d want 100% free range of the music I played!
And then I do all of the Selador stuff – Dave and I don’t have rolls as such, we each do a bit of everything. We are both busy doing other things alongside the label, so we seem to know when the other one is manic, and run with it. We love it. We really do. Again, something I’d love to do as a full time job…
And finally. How do you see the future of Dj’ing, record promotion and the results of music streaming?
I think everybody needs to embrace technology. The vinyl only purists or people who look down on people that use CDJ’s for example are just going to fade away, times change, and if you don’t, you’re going to be left behind. If you look back through history, the invention of vinyl upset people, as radio stations thought that nobody would listen to radio if they had vinyl… people said cassettes would kill the music scene… people said mp3’s would kill the scene… and streaming again would be one step further to putting a nail in the music industries coffin, and yet here we all are, still loving what we are loving and still listening to music.
I now send promo’s in my day job, from my mac, that people can react to on their phone while offline sitting on an aeroplane, and have the tune waiting for them in their dropbox when they get to the hotel for a gig… technology is great, and yes it can be scary, but you have to embrace it.
Surely one day in the not too distant future, you’ll be able to mix on your phone in a club, streaming tracks from Beatport streaming (or wherever) over Wi-Fi/5G to your crowd, whilst also doing the visuals for the venue on the same phone, that is live streaming to other venues, while other people watch it streamed in their home, while the artist is interacting on social media with them all at the same time, whilst also sending the metadata so the artist and label get instantly paid for their music being played. It’s probably not that far away when you think about it.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty Mat. Let’s begin with your new single for Awesome Soundwave: Kic 8462852. Tell us about the story behind the title and what inspired this particular fascination?
Hello, thanks for having me… well the track title came from an object in deep space that baffled scientist’s around the world , they thought they had found an Alien megastructure that was collecting solar energy, because of the light fluctuations. I found it fascinating, most of my track titles come from Celestial inspiration.
How did your relationship with Carl Cox and Christopher Coe aka Awesome Soundwave first came about?
I have only met Carl a couple of times, but he has been incredibly supportive of my music since around 2006. He’s played most of the records I’ve made on his radio show. I would love to tell you how I got the music to Carl , cos there is a story to it … but I can’t tell you as it’s a secret … and I’d get into trouble! I haven’t met Chris yet as he lives in Australia, but we’ve become friends over the last six months and he’s quite the gentleman and also a real talent in the studio. It’s been great working with them and there is more to come..
Talk us through how you produced the track, including any favourite software/ hardware you like to use?
I use protools to make music and old and new synths. I don’t use midi, I just play everything in live and chop it up. I worked with my friend Burty and have used him as a session musician, some tracks take months other a couple of days, this one seemed to be a quick process, I also have to give a close friend props on this one, I can’t say his name as you all know him but he gave me a little brief before I made the track. All the tracks come from different places in my head …. so I don’t feel like I repeat myself much.
Love the cover art. Please tell us about it?
It’s by a guy called Gustave and he lives in Holland.. it’s part of a larger picture that reveals itself in the final instalment of this project.
The space theme continues with, Solar your third album (also due on Awesome Soundwave). Tell us about some of the things which have inspired the making of the album – are there any particular influences outside of the world of electronic music too?
Well I named most of the album after a book that was written in the second century called The Almagest… it was written by a greco roman called Ptolmey. It’s the first real publication about the stars and planetary models, deeply interesting stuff. Also there’s a link between the album title and my studio too, as it runs on Solar Energy, I have a huge amount of solar panels and I sell the Electricity back to the national grid. I’ve had this system for nine years now and I sold half my studio to afford it in 2010, I managed to buy my equipment back in three and half years, from the profits. Some people seem to think the most important element In electronic music is the kick drum, I believe it to be Electricity.
Which synthesiser could you not live without and why?
I love synths and I have an obsession with them, but I’ll have to say they are just material objects, I’d like to say I can live without materials objects..
There is an amazing picture of a beautiful table you have created for your studio. It must take pride of place. Can you tell us about the process of making it? And how does the physical act of creating something compare with making music on a computer?
The idea for that table was to build something that was at standing up high so that I was in the same position I would be when I performed… I’ve always thought it to be a bit weird how we make electronic music sitting down yet we listen to it and perform it standing up… I’m sure there is something in there… with energy flows. The tree came down in a storm in 2015 my friend mentioned it to me and I was like I’ll take it. We chopped it up and I was left with a huge lump of wood with the bark still on it, I had to let the tree dry before I treated it, that actually took me two years as I wanted to do it naturally instead of in a kiln. Then it took three months worth of sanding and varnishing… in some ways the table is quite ugly as it is rather odd, I think all creativity is kinda the same, you just have to make every element to the best of your vision.
What are your feelings on nostalgia in music? And what are the most important elements that signify music when becomes timeless – Can you name a piece of music (of any genre) that for you is?
I think nostalgia is personal to you and you alone, time and places spring to mind – even people that are not into music still have association when they hear a certain track. I think it’s what was happening in their life at the time that is evoked through music. I’ve got too many influences like that to mention and they start at around five years old and still coming… before I was old enough to go to school my mum owned an Aerobics Centre . My mum made me go record shopping to Woolworths to collect music to play to the ladies and men whilst they worked out. I remember hearing Marshall Jefferson – Move Your Body on a compilation….propa wtf moment…..
And finally. Where can people get to hear you DJ next? Can you also tell us about the experience of putting the live show together?
I’ll be performing the album live this summer and a tour soon to be confirmed.
With so much excellent new music around these days it makes you wonder why anyone would want to bother living in a re-edited past. This dangerous fusion of smouldering electricity coupled with the sort of pounding kick drum to die for is just one example. Opening with the title track, Binary which explores repetition in explosive fashion as wired and wonderful sounds intertwine with drums and a lone voice intoning, repeat. And yet this inventive, insightful arrangement of the source elements is much more than mere simplicity as the production creates an unworldly sense of itself reaching far and beyond. The riotous, Coast To Coast follows with commanding piano strikes fuelling a rush towards the dancefloor, leaving the exceptional Niko’s Apartment to end. I say exceptional because although the drum-break has existed the world over in a million different guises its use here, when combined with these sublime, emotionally charged pads and taught Detroit styled bassline causes unique results. And then again you will also hit repeat.
Returning to Belfast’s Extended Play is always a pleasure. And with this new release from Tabb both label and artist have excelled themselves. Music should always be exciting whether that pleasure is up or down and Tabb produces those sensations all in one as playful synthesizers lean on heavy-duty rhythms and gritty drum machines. A contrasting sense of yearning is also to be uncovered beneath the jaunty keys that inform Just Arrived as booming kicks, crisp hats and a rigorous genre busting approach all ratchet up the allure. Close To You comes then excites with an almost eighties approach to electronic melody, while the very wonderful bizarreness of Bricked completes via tempting, syncopated basslines dishing out a nod to Hi-Nrg in true downtown, in the heat of night, fashion.