- Published on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 12:31
Joy Orbison on at 10pm? Was this a test!!?? Shameful failures we were, siphoning into Brixton Academy just before 12 for the Four Tet All-Nighter, feeling like total dildos for missing one of the best acts on the bill. Granted Joy O was playing the field that night, heading off to Oval Space to support Tale of Us for an Art of Muse party after his Brixton appearance, but opening at 10pm? How's a gal to get her disco nap in?
Daphni quickly put a stopper on my Joy O grumbling period however, playing an eclectic set traversing deep and grinding tech, bouncey garage house and disco – lots of it. We all jerked about spilling our beers to MJ Cole, ‘Crazy Love’ (Crazy Dubb) and whipped out our soul boogie double claps to ‘We’ve Had Enough’ – Arnie Love. Nobody seemed too concerned with clever mixing that night, least of all Daphni. It made for someone slightly awkward dancefloor moments, as we were re-adjusting our rhythms every five minutes, but song selection was so spot on that I can easily forgive him that. The talented and slightly dweeby looking Canadian (answers to Caribou, or Dan Snaith) had a lot of goodwill behind him that night, having studied at the Imperial College of London and been wholeheartedly adopted onto the London music scene for many years. I was stuck in a toilet queue for some time, which is only worth mentioning because at one point Daphni sidled past me towards backstage, and when seen out of context he really does look like he’s here to fix your software issues.
The stage set up was as modest as the Brixton Academy was grandiose. Once you brought your eyes down from the elaborate and tall stage frame, with its curled edges and faded paint showing signs of affluence long dried up, you would find a simple long table set up centre stage, lit only by some 50s style office lamps and completely dwarfed by the cavernous space around it. The lighting show consisted of Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) occasionally rotating the lamp bulb towards the current DJ or towards the crowd to highlight someone having a particularly good time, or shame someone picking their nose. Lasers have their place, but it wasn’t here – this absurdly understated approach to production made us feel closer to those on stage; it was basically just like a house party, but with three storey ceilings.
By the time Floating Points came on my friends and I had reached that stage of the night where someone always seemed to have lost someone else and every time we found each other again someone was missing their keys/wallet/hair pins, but had half a beer in a hand where no beer had been before. Messy, I think is the word I’m searching for. Like Daphni before him, Floating Points wasn’t going to let a little thing like continuity get in the way of a good time and had us jumping from gritty techno to steel drum exotic holiday music and back again.
Four Tet continued the theme of eclecticism exploring a whole lot of funky territory and generally showing support for the artists he’d enlisted for the night. Highlights of Four Tet were almost making it to the front of the bar queue then abandoning it all to go dance to Daphni ‘Yes I Know’, plus moonwalking and neck-popping to the uber funky new track from Floating Points – ‘King Bromeliad’. Four Tet also snuck in an unreleased collaboration of his with Burial, just to keep us guessing. We began to flag post-Four Tet, and so called it a night and joined the happy-but-beaten punters spilling out into the Brixton streets.
It was a night of experimentation, diversity and humour, but the lack of continuity put me off staying until the end, as it didn’t feel like one of those epic techno journeys that you just have to see conclude. That’s not to say it wasn’t thoroughly enjoyable while it lasted. Four Tet’s All Nighter continues to guarantee good atmosphere, interesting venues, and music you won’t hear anywhere else - all for a tenner. Clearly in it for the love.
- Published on Friday, 21 March 2014 17:28
I first heard this Daphni's 'Ye Ye' at a Four Tet gig under a great brick archway in London. I unwittingly had my hand on a stranger’s bottom at the time, was unconsciously tipping my drink in a different stranger’s hood and was uncomfortably close to the end of a glowing cigarette attached to a face with bad breath. Most unusually for London, it was very, very crowded.
Fortunately, music solves everything – and the airing of this dark beast from Daphni marked a sharp turning point in a night which until that point had been less about music and more about elbows. It’s a synth line to end all synth lines - a dark, twisted sound which clambers up and down the scale like a menacing spider, its sharply fluctuating tempo creating drama in every phrase. It builds like a mad thing too – rough and raw percussion layers on itself as the song progresses, and double time cymbal crashes spark up the energy and pace. There’s a lot of space in the texture, but that’s not to say it isn’t quite complex if you listen closely. And since that first night I have listened very closely and without distraction – in some ways this song sounds best in a dark room alone. Is that weird? I think Daphni would approve.
There’s something strangely trivial about the ‘ye ye’ vocal snippet in comparison to the rest of the track, but as it’s the only part of the song a human can recreate without sounding like they’ve had eight too many quaaludes, it became a bit of a parrot-cry for those in the Daphni know.
Daphni is in fact an alias of Canadian composer and producer Caribou who, despite living across the Atlantic, is an influential and practically adopted member of the London scene. He plays alongside Joy Orbison, Pearson Sound, Floating Points and Four Tet at the Four Tet All-nighter in London this Saturday.
- Published on Thursday, 20 March 2014 16:58
Maceo Plex – Conjure One EP
I love that Maceo Plex has brought that gritty electro sound back into fashion – never mind the syncopated siren drops of the commercial electro world – this is the real, raw deal. Conjure Drama is brutal, dark and (would you believe it) dramatic, Conjure Bass rumbles along but never quite gets to where it means to go, whilst Conjure Balearia starts with determination, then spins the listener off into contemplative waves and definitely sounds inspired by a track Plex has been playing for the last half a year, Place of Love (also out on Ellum).
Sade – Never Thought/Love is Stronger (Vin Sol and Matrixxman remixes)
Here are two smooth and silky remixes of one of the most distinctive voices of the 20th century – Sade. Vin Sol and Matrixxman have gone for complimentary, rounded tones and light and festive percussion, making both tracks the ultimate in easy listening. Limited hand-stamped copies are available from Phonica.
Mari – Free (The Ray Mang versions)
Well this is just too happy for words. The UK’s Ray Mang has picked up Italian singer Mari (Marina Conti) and transposed her vocals onto a tight piece of euphoric disco. Swirling piano arpeggios, major chords and swelling strings weaving around Mari’s husky vocals defy you to listen to this without cracking a smile. It’s a wax release only at the moment, with digital on the way. Shout out to Bill Brewster for the tip off.
- Published on Friday, 14 March 2014 10:14
I first heard Zabiela’s The Healing whilst staring through the window at my parents’ sunny garden in Australia during an extended visit home. My friend had posted it on his facebook wall in all sorts of excited hysterics about the final arrival of James Zabiela’s new label, Born Electric, and its inaugural release from Zabiela himself, whose own productions are quite rare (whhyyyy? WHYYYY?). I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I heard. Zabiela had been producing melodic stuff before now, but always welded together by slightly chopped rhythms and flat bass beats. There was nothing chopped about The Healing; the whole thing was pure silk.
It begins with rippling. A light and hypnotic rippling which is gradually layered upon by a loop of Zabiela’s own silky vocals, light percussion and trance-like synth arpeggios which build before the track gently drops into a very slow and simple 4/4. It’s essential this is listened to with the best speakers on hand, so you can enjoy every level of texture, most crucially the sonorous waves of bass that intermittently wash over the lower end of the track like a warm vibrating blanket.
With a constant sense of travel the track rolls through several different variations on a theme, stimulating enough to keep you out of a trance but without breaking its own flow. Just when you think it’s all over there is a standout vocal couplet doubled by bass, bringing the song to a heart-wrenching but satisfying close.
Like other Born Electric releases that followed, The Healing comes with a quality selection of remixes made by artists Zabiela personally requested and admires: Hot Chip, Midland, Clubroot and his own re-working to make it club friendly. My favourite remix by far, however, emerged a few months later as part of Sasha’s Involv3r mix, in which he takes the stems from twelve eclectic tracks and re-works them from the bottom up. Sasha introduced a heavy, acidy bass line to The Healing which morphed it into quite a different creature, whilst still maintaining warmth through Zabiela’s vocals.
Zabiela has stated that The Healing is a very personal song… but he didn’t need to say it. Anyone that gives this their full attention will connect with it on a deeper level; one youtube commenter even said, “it makes me want to punch a goose”, but I’m not sure what that means, musically speaking.
Check out the Born Electric discography HERE. Modest in size, but excellent in quality.
- Published on Friday, 28 February 2014 18:17
I first heard Modeselektor’s Berlin played by the Modeselektor boys themselves at the We Love Closing Party in Ibiza. I was lethargically riding my eleventh wind by this time, midway through a brutal closing party schedule that had left me deranged, dehydrated and a bit deaf … but what a tune. It was prefaced by some weird mumblings and squeals into the microphone from Modeselektor boys Gernot and Sebastian, who asked the crowd in their best robo-chipmonk impression, “hey bitches you want more? OK cool” – and in rolled Berlin.
The standout single from Modeselektor’s seminal album Monkeytown and already a classic for many, Berlin provided the answer to my feeble prayers – the perfect pick me up at a tired feet friendly pace and I took full advantage of the chunky, laid back beat, swinging heartily around my fellow clubbers like a ghetto orangutan in orange converse. Things were getting pretty wild in the front row by this point, as Modeselektor always bring the party in the most raucous fashion imaginable; they were spraying champagne on their crowd well before Steve Aoki even found where the sync button was. I’m pretty sure they must have dropped Berlin post-spray because I remember being vaguely sticky, but at that point it could have been anything from vodka to bin juice.
Vocals from half Romanian half German singer/songwriter Miss Platinum provided the ultimate hook. They’re as laidback as the beat and stupidly catchy; my housemates suffered me singing the complex lyrical structure ‘low low low low low’ for days on end afterwards. The film clip by François Chalet is weird, wonderful and totally Modeselektor. A King Kong sized silverback lumbers through a cardboard cityscape eating, flexing and generally wreaking havoc. He’s got a little red tongue sticking out though so it all seems very benign, even when he’s tipping a plane full of people upside down.
Gernot and Sebastian did their home town proud with this one – it has been on high rotation every since my first sticky encounter.