Saturday, 27 June 2009

Holiday listening

While I've been sunning myself over the last two weeks (hopefully to the envy of everyone) I've had the chance to catch up and listen to some of the sets and podcasts I've downloaded recently. I don't know about anyone else, but this doesn't happen very often; I find that with the huge amount of music available at your fingertips, music has become a much more disposable commodity than ever before. When I bought more vinyl and CD's, I would listen to mixes and tracks endlessly until I knew them inside out- I couldn't afford that much music, so made do with what I had. The proliferation of free (but legal) downloading has both expanded the range of what I listen to and meant i can hear more, but it's very rare that I listen to a set more than a few times before moving on. Being stranded with only a limited collection on the old Ipod, some sets I previously passed by have grown on me and become some of my favourites of the year. Here's a selection of those I've been enjoying most:

CLR Podcast

CLR is a label that I've found produces a rather too hard techno sound for me to listen to much of. I used to buy the odd release on vinyl in the early 00's, but CLR has largely passed me by since. However, the launch of the CLR podcast has released some really good techno mixes from the likes of Adam Beyer, Collabs, D Nox, Tommy Four Seven and Perc. The Collabs and Perc sets are particular favourites. I've just noticed there's a new one from Ben Klock there too... keep 'em coming!

Italian Techno

I've really come to like the techno sound coming from Italy at the moment, and they feel particularly suited to the summer, with a warm ambiance dominating. I've been enjoying the few sets I've got so much that I was going to post a feature on it when I returned, but I see mnml ssgs have beaten me to it! So without being too repetitive, I'll just post a couple of sets I've been listening to: have a regular podcast which has had some decent mixes, but standout 'casts have come from Giorgio Gigli (possibly mixing the next mnml ssgs cast?) who provides a slowly building mix from Heneke ambiance to Craig/Funktionen style techno, and Natural Electronic System who recently mixed for ssgs. There's also a good Dozzy mix on there too and one from Manuel Tur.

I recently found a mix by Dino Sabotini that I enjoyed- Dino is one half of Modern Heads with Gianluca Meloni, who I found out about through their System Overload release on Radiance records and the No More EP on Prologue. Let me know what you think.

There's some great Dozzy and Nuel sets on the mnml ssgs, but also Phrench Fries have a live set by the duo over at their blog that is well worth a listen. Again, it's deep and atmospheric, the sound the Italians do best- also worth checking is the Dozzy Glade podcast you can find a link to here.


Finally, I've been listening a lot to the promo mixes from Colony, a London based night playing techno, dubstep, D&B and IDM. 006 by CB is a really smooth mix of dubstep/techno crossover material and is my particular favourite, but all the mixes are really well put together and worthy of a listen. I'm looking forward to getting to one of these parties soon, they sound like fun if these mixes are anything to go by.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Dubstep discovery

Ah, the much talked about techno/dubstep divide. For a long time My interest in dubstep was limited, and extended only as far as a vague recollection of Villalobos playing Skream's 'Midnight Request Line' and Ramadanman's 'Blimey,' and hearing his remix of Shackleton's 'Blood on my hands' on Radio Slaves Misch Masch CD. It was primarily through Scuba's mixes and a series of bleak, wintery releases on Shackleton and Appleblim's now defunkt Skull Disco label that I became a follower. However, Interviews with those responsible for some of the biggest crossovers on RA, Fact and the like reveal that despite their successes in extending the scene, this success is often accompanied by a sense of wariness. The much talked about techno/dubstep hybrid has the potential to become a pigeon hole and spawn potentially poor imitations of the sound. For those involved, variation is the key to their success- even those banded together under the umbrella of techno/dubstep have a wide range of sounds and influences that span from sparse industrial beats to early Basic Channel to drum and bass and jungle. The release of 'Tectonic Plates Vol 2' and Mordant Music's 'Picking O'er The Bones', and stumbling across sites like Sonic Router and Sitting Ovation has brought a wider variety of sounds to my ears. So who are the people doing interesting things, and where could the sound head in the future? As spring has sprung, where is the dubstep sound headed for the summer months? Here's a few thoughts as a starter.

Hot flush

Paul Rose aka Scuba is one of the key players in bringing dubstep to techno ears. Scuba's relocation to Berlin and his role in the Sub:stance nights at Berghain seems to have drawn his sound closer and closer to the techno mainstream. His own releases are increasingly blurring the boundaries with dubstep, and his DJ sets draw together dubstep, techno, funky and tech house. Download his podcast for a taster. Word has it that Scuba is working on the follow up to 'A mutual antipathy' to be released later this year. If his recent single 'Klinik/Hundreds and thousands' is anything to go by, it could be an album firmly straddling both camps; while Klinik combines dubstep swinging beats with sub aquatic synths, H&T is techno minimalism a la Berghain- is this the effect playing in the iconic venue has on producers of all genres? Scuba also has a habit of getting interesting remixers on board, as seen in the album remixes by Surgeon, Subtance, Dettmann and Martyn, while Scuba's 'Hard boiled' re-edit is a masterpiece of a rework.

Mount Kimbie
What do you call the music produced by Mount Kimbie? Is it dubstep? Electronica? Whatever it is it perfectly encapsulates the sound of summer, bringing warmth, colour and texture to the dubstep fray. RA called the release "a blueprint for a new way of doing 'step' music", pulling in a range of influences across the musical spectrum, while FACT labelled the producers ones to watch in 2009. On 'Maybes' released on Scuba's Hot Flush, the tracks combine 2 step Burial-esque beats and atmospherics with melancholic melodies and skittering percussion that leans heavily on Shackleton. I think this is one of the best releases of 2009, not bad for a first EP!

Daphne records
Millie and Andrea's first release on Daphne was aptly described on Boomkat as "the freshest, sickest twelve we've heard this year, a sort of mutant 2-Step/Techno/Wonky mashup", but who is behind the release? Rumoured artists are Martyn himself, Appleblim, someone from Skull Disco, 2652 or Headhunter. Daphne seems to be a sister label to Modern Love, and clues on Boomkat and point to MLZ and Andy Stott. Whoever it is, releases so far have taken Martyn's trademark grooves and combined them with dub techno and Maurizio and fit equally well in techno or dubstep sets. Look out for Millie and Andrea's new release out soon, or read about it on FACT.

Hessle Audio
Hessle Audio is perhaps one of the most interesting emerging labels, recently featured on RA, and responsible for the first releases by Pangaea, Untold and TRG. Well worth a listen are Pangaea's 'Router' and the Villalobos championed 'Blimey.' Releases have been charted by a diverse range of DJ's including Quarion, Agnes, James Ruskin and Brendon Moeller. Check out a Hessle Audio promo mix released to celebrate their Fabric room 3 takeover by Ben UFO over at Sonic Router to see what they're about.

Apple Pips

Appleblim's Apple Pips is another label with a slew of outstanding releases including cuts from T++, Ramadanman and Martyn. Releases are not focussed solely on dubstep, but explore the boundaries of the sound and potential directions of exploration and crossover. A particularly fertile ground has been experimentation with dub techno. Applepips 004 by T++ aka Torsten Profock moves from deep and rolling techno on the A side to a 140bpm take on the same sounds on the B side in a similar vein to his recent 'Space Break'. The most interesting aspect of the label is their choice of remixers, with Brendon Moeller and Sven Weisemann appearing on the label. Weisemann's remix of Ramadanman's Humber is one of my current favourites; a melodious and beautifully haunting track that could signal a new direction of exploration for dubstep.

Headhunter is a producer equally at home in a techno or dubstep environment. His releases have included remixes for Martin Buttrich and Brendon Moeller's Beat Pharmacy, as well as singles and an album for Tempa. I recently posted a link to a Headhunter set from Clash Magazine, and live sets are posted on his myspace page. His influences span Basic Channel, electronica, drum and bass, jungle and grime, and the outcome is a unique and varied take on dubstep that seems overtly electronic.

DFRNT is an Edinburgh producer and DJ who has developed an interesting sound that combines dubstep, electronica and detroit techno. He is the driving force behind the Sitting Ovation blog, which has great features and mixes as well as free tracks and is well worth a look. He has recently posted a preview mix of his album Metafiction, which sounds a perfect release for the summer. An archive of his mixes can also be found on his website, the latest one includes tracks by Markus Intalex, Scuba and Jason Fine.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Vinyl only #3

The third vinyl only is from Stefan Goldmann, the man behind last year's choral smash 'Lunatic Fringe.' The A side will be the most playable for many and i'm sure will find its way into many tech house DJ's sets. It's all about the break: the track builds through snippets of live instruments- a piano, pan pipes, a shuffling backing track.... it all drops out and then thunders back in in a mass of noise.... mayhem ensues!

The B side sees Goldmann taking on the techno/dubstep crossover in a track that would sound at home on the Berghain dancefloor. Deep, dubby and atmospheric techno is the order of the day, with a skipping dubstep beat that sounds similar to recent releases by T++. Have a listen!

Vinyl only #3