Thursday, March 13, 2008

From Quiet Village to Bon Iver

Joel Martin and Matt Edward are Quiet Village and in April they are about to release their first album Silent Movie on Germany's Studio !K7, which comes as a bit of a surprise seeing as they've previously released a lot of these tracks on the ultra-limited and super-expensive Whatever We Want Records and hopefully this will give them a chance to widen their already fanatical fanbase. It must have been a pain in the ass for the poor A&R guy and the lawyers at the label to clear all the samples, the most notable absentee from the list being Drax, which samples Double Fantasy Children Of The Universe, which is the b-side to Too High To Move, which is my personal favourite track that they've ever done.

1. Victoria's Secret
2. Circus of Horror
3. Free Rider
4. Too High To Move
5. Pacific Rhythm
6. Broken Promises
7. Pillow Talk
8. Can't Be Beat
9. Gold Rush
10. Singing Sand
11. Utopia
12. Keep on Rolling


Side 1
Victoria's Secret
Circus of Horror
Free Rider
Pacific Rhythm
Keep on Rolling

Side 2
Broken Promises
Pillow Talk
Gold Rush

I've decided to post Circus of Horrors as next to the aforementioned Too High To Move really hits the spot and is one of those records that you simply have to play from start to finish. It's one of those records that doesn't sound like anything else but still works on more discerning dancefloors the world over.

Quiet Village - Circus of Horror

This is another Matt Edwards reworking this time of Sunrise by Norah Jones, or Snorah Jones as she is affectionately known as by one of the faculty members up here at the school, and it is as aptly a named tune as ever I have heard. It's the time of record that would go down a treat at 7am at any other point it might be a bit coffee table but only just. For another great working of his check the ultra-druggy slo-mo remix of Mocky Extended Vacation under his Rekid 'guise, which is superb and I might stick it up in a few weeks.

Norah Jones - Sunrise (Salida Del Sol) - Radioslave remix

I don't know much about Cyril Boehler aka Zwicker other than him being Swiss and his previous Made Up track that was quite big for Pierre and myself when we lived in Taiwan a few years back. This remix is deep house of the highest order with just enough disco thrown in to make it stand out above the rest. This is another one of those records that should have been far bigger than it was and when you play it remember the louder the better.

Jamie Lloyd - What We Have - ....Is A Zwicker remix

This is just sublime and absolutely amazing piece of music from Little Dragon and it definitely ticks all the right buttons for me. It isn't by any means the most obvious track from their superb self-titled album but it is the one that I find myself coming back to time and time again. This isn't a dancefloor record by any means and why do they all have to be? I am besotted with this tune and hopefully all of you will be as well.

Little Dragon - Scribbled Paper

I had the opportunity to interview Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon a few months back and you can read the interview here.

Bon Iver is a new name to me and I heard this track for the first time the other day when one of the students at the school was playing it loud as in his room and I had to know the name of it, although truth be told the students backing vocals added a little bit to the track that is missing from the original version. It's one of those records that is incredibly catchy and it kind of straddles that line between neo-soul (always hated that term) and folk music and, who knows, it might appeal to a couple of you out there. I like it a lot and he has a great voice that has a lot of potential. I'd love to see Studio have a go at this record and turn it into one of their balearock masterpieces, it deserves it. Here is a typically overblown review of his album by the guys over at Pitchfork.

Bon Iver - Skinny Love

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

One Hundred Project : Solid State

What is on your stereo at the moment?

Al Green 'Love Ritual' then I had Mona Rae 'Do Me'

3 records that changed your life. Why?

Well 'changed my life' is a bit strong, but...

Vice Versa 'Music 4 EP', 1979
This was the first record by the future ABC and came out of their cellar in Hunters Bar, Sheffield, on their own label called Neutron. We were given all the early Neutron releases (and the ABC stuff, later) by Steve Singleton's sister who was my sister's beezzie mate at school, and we were exposed to all the contemporary Sheff sounds through that connection - so, even though we were only 11 and 13 at the time, we were bang up on what the Human League, Clock DVA and all those bands were up to. I remember all the stories, like the utter incredulity that was rife when Phil Oakey got those two townie lasses singing, and Judd from Clock DVA dying 'from drugs'...You felt like you knew all the characters, even though you didn't.

Musically, the Vice Versa EP was quite bleak and quite pretentious, I wouldnt say I loved it exactly - the fascination was more that someone we knew had actually released 'A Record'. Even now, when literally anyone can punt around their own music on a CDR or MP3, having a vinyl record seems special.... back then it was quadruply so.

It was also a fascinating time, looking back now - this record came out at least a couple of years before Sheffield was on the map (as far as most peope were concerned) as any sort of musical hotspot. Very few bands in the city had released a single, and Neutron were practically the only label actually from Sheffield putting out cutting edge Sheffield music. 'Being Boiled' came out on Fast Product, a Scottish label. The Cabs were with Rough Trade. So I suppose this record was part of that process, laying the groundwork for the 'explosion' in Sheffield music that was to come. It was the post punk DIY thing in action, which was very inspiring, even tho I was far too young to do owt myself at the time!

Cabaret Voltaire 'Crackdown' LP, 1983
Still the best Cabs LP IMO, the experimantal earlier stuff maybe had more 'edge', but this was actually funky as well as menacing! It's also the first LP that's almost totally electronic. In fact, the 'electronic-ness' of the early Cabs has been greatly exaggerated - they actually relied a lot on normal electric guitar and bass. John Luongo and John 'Tokes' Potoker (whose names I only recognised years later as well-known NY dance producers) gave it a warmer, cleaner sound, with ots more sequencing than previously. Despite later forays into clubbier music and even House, I dont think they ever bettered this.The name, the look, the attitude, the sound - everything about the Cabs was perfect. I was obsessed with em for YEARS after hearing this.

Mantronix 'Who Is It?', 1986
I used to play this over and over, and I bought the normal 12 AND the double pack! Sonically, it was like the bridge between hip hop and techno - yes techno, not electro! - lyrically, it was a poem to sampling. It was also my standby House-Not-House track - I used to put it on tapes before I had enough actual House to fill a C90 - it seemed to fit the vibe. A really exciting record, still. Has the 'get down' sample from 'Bounce Rock Skate Roll' in glorious, grainy 8 Bit...

Before that there was the Sreetsounds Electro comps and The Message too, of course, but everyone knows about the impact they had... and I'm trying to keep it to 3 records!

What are you looking forward to?

The Hot Coins record coming out on Society, Northern Disco in March, and a holiday at some point.

What couldn’t you live without? Why?

Radio 4. There's just always something interesting on it - though I proper DETEST The Archers! And me and Mrs State love 6 Music too, esp Craig Charles' funk and soul show on a Saturday night. He played Undisputed Truth's Ball of Confusion the other week, which rocked our world.

Most memorable gig?

Johannesburg in 2000... I was in the right place at the right time and landed one of Chris Duckenfield's cast-off gigs (he wont go, for some reason) and had an amazing time out there, playing in Cape Town and Johannesburg, as well as about 4 radio slots. What an incredible place. And the last gig in Jhb was amazing - man, I'd kill to go back!

Who/what are your influences?

All that crossover scene in Sheff in the mid 80s at the end of the 'industrial funk' era when House was just making it all sound old. Such an exciting time. CAbs, Chakk, Hula, Clock DVA, then Jive Turkey with Winston and Parrot. In more recent times, I've been influenced by the taste of people like Danny Wang, Greg Wilson and Al Kent 'cos of course I love disco, electro etc.

What is the best and worst thing about the city that you live in?

Great atmospheres can be had in Sheffield, but its so elusive! Maybe it's to do with the exact allignments of the planets. When its good it can be REALLY good, but many's the time you wonder why you still bother haha!

Given the accelerated pace of modern culture, what are we due a revival in?

Fuck knows. 1991 House?

Hero? Why?

Bowie would be one just because of his 'sheer talent'!

Is there anything else that you feel that we should know?

Society Recordings will take over the world by 2012. We just need to put some records out and 2008 is my '20th anniversary of being a DJ' year!

Solid State aka Richard Hardcastle - Society Recordings, Sheffield

Solid got his start in making real music in 1985, aged 17. He was recruited to play guitar and programme synths and drum machines in Sheffield bands One Stop the World and Jass, playing alongside assorted Sheffield luminaries such as Pulp's Nick Banks, All Seeing I's Dean Honer, and WARP's Rob Gordon.

Then, inspired by the clubbier, dance-orientated black electronic sounds played by Winston and Parrot at Jive Turkey (original home of the WARP Records sound) he began Djing his still pretty meagre collection of House, Rap, Soul, Funk and Go-Go and promoted his first dance club, 'Kangaroo', in 1988.

Kangaroo appeared alongside Jive Turkey in an NME 'Acid House Special' in Nov 1988 before problems at the venue put it to rest. Richard then played the Sheffield warehouse and college scene for a couple of years, put together a few mix tapes, and adopted the DJ name 'Solid State' in 1990, playing on the Shamen's Synergy Tour date at Sheffield Uni. He first gained wider DJ recognition for his Palais residencies, playing at hugely popular nights such as the 1500 capacity Compulsion and Jam Factory during 1990-93 with Shelleys kingpins Dave Seaman, Dave Ralph and Sasha, and his Saturday afternoon pirate radio shows on SCR and Fantasy FM were essential listening for many in Sheffield at the time.

At the end of 1992 he resurrected Kangaroo and drafted in Notts party kings DIY as well as future TOKO and Guidance artist Pat Barry, with whom he would later collaborate on his own releases for those labels. Pat's other major contribution was in introducing Solid to the deeper side of Disco and Balearic music, beginning a discotic fascination that lay the groundwork for Society a decade later.

In 1993 he was involved in bringing Tony Humphries and Justin Berkman to Sheffield in an exclusive 'Ministry on the Move' event at Sheffield University, with a specially hired sound system. During a fallow period in the Sheffield club scene he played extensively the free party scene with Smokescreen (later the Inland Knights) and his old hero Winston Hazel through to 1994, when he took 9 months out to teach English in Istanbul.

Suitably refreshed, returning to Sheffield in mid 1995, Richard was one of the original team who started The Republic (later Gatecrasher), making DJ appearances alongside Harvey, Norman Jay, Derrick Carter, Derrick May, Farley and Heller, Andrew Weatherall, Nightmares on Wax and many others. Richard was recruited for versatility and his ability to play a diverse selection of music at a time when many DJs were either 'House' or 'Funky'...

Between 1996 and 2002 Richard teamed up with, the TOKO boys, Pat Barry and SWAG, and released vinyl for Toko, Cookhouse, Chris Duckenfield's Primitive and Chicago's deep house legends Guidance Recordings, on the strength of which he played a mini tour of South Africa in 2000. From 1998 he also became a regular spinner at Scuba, Sheffield's longest running and best loved 'real house' night, and at NY Sushi, where over the years he played alongside the Unabombers, Greg Wilson, Sean P, Idjut Boys, Swag, Nuphonic, TOKO boys, Bjorn Torske, Winston Hazel, Chris Duckenfield, Mantis Recs and numerous others. Always a DJ with a passion for the wider spectrum of black music, he became terminally disillusioned with the 'House DJ' treadmill after his eye-opening trip to South Africa in 2000... So when a friend approached him with the idea of a night 'joining the dots' between old classics and new, Richard totally ran with the idea - and Society was born (quite literally) on the 4th of July 2003, with Richard as resident.

As well as monthly slots in Sheffield, over the past 4 years he has represented the Society sound at like-minded events in London, Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Stoke and Birmingham. Society guests have included Daniel Wang, Recloose, Greg Wilson, Al Kent, Balearic Mike, Greg Belson, Sean P, Kelvin Andrews, Ichi One, Red Rack Em, Balearik Soul, Deepsoul3 and many others. In 2005/6 Solid State released 2 edits EPs Product of Society' Vols 1 and 2, and after something of a gap in their output, Society Recodings has 4 releases scheduled for 2008, including mixes from Chris Duckenfield, Small Arms Fiya, Toby Tobias, The Black Dog, Trulz and Robin and more.

Solid State - Live in my basement mix


Madre - ‘Final Funk’
Product of Society - ‘Extended Juice’
Bohannon - ‘Dont You Be Ashamed To Call My Name’
Pimp Daddies - ‘The Vibe’
Small Arms Fiya - ‘So Easy’
Tik and Tok - ‘Crisis’
Black Joy - ‘Moustache’ (Prins Thomas Disko Dub)
Al Wilson - ‘Earthquake’ (Al Kent Edit)
JJ Fuchs - ‘Stick It In the Middle’
Terry Brooks - ‘Pressure’
Alfonse Mouzon - ‘Space Invaders’
Ray Parker Jnr - ‘Invasion’
Pointer Sisters - ‘Dare Me’
Love Birds - ‘Modern Stalking’
Sleeque - ‘One For the Money’ Dub
Roundtree - ‘Hit On You’
Michael Wilson - ‘Groove It To Your Body’ Inst
Product of Society - ‘Space Boogie’

Download the mix from Trackwerk here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Running Over The Border

Last week we invited Eothen Alapatt aka Egon from Stones Throw Records to come up and speak to the students at the school about funk and its importance to the birth and solidification of the foundations of the hip hop movement which is far bigger than anyone in the boroughs of New York City could ever have imagined in the days when Grandmasters DST, Theodore, Flash and Kool Herc were defining the blueprint. Back in the day it was all about buying two copies of a record and looking for those all important breaks and extending them by switching between the two on a pair of tables - 'proper DJing' as I have been told on numerous occasions by, well, older DJs. To illustrate the point check this video with Kool Herc and check the old fella's moves.

Now as Eothen so eloquently put it, hip hop and funk for that matter would be nothing without the sadly missed James Brown who was all about getting people up and on their feet hollering and dancing and between his drummers Jabo Starks and Clyde Stubblefield they must easily be the most sampled musicians of all time but seeing as James had sole-ownership of his music these iconic sticksmen didn't see a dime for all their hard work. This next clip is the awesome Good Foot and I've been toying with doing something with the break for a while now but seeing as I don't want to get sued I might as well just stick to playing the record.

Eothen is one of those collectors that doesn't limit his quest for the breaks to one country but rather he seeks records the world over and during his talk he played records from Turkey and India and professed his love for music from Korea, which is his new vice and trust me when he told me how much some of the records go for it is a vice and then some. My wife told me in no uncertain terms that I was not allowed to even remotely get into Korean funk and I wouldn't even know where to start looking in all truth. Eothen's talk opened a few of the students eyes to the unlimited possibilities of sampling as he played original cut followed by the new tracks off his label created with the samples but he did also warn them about the pitfalls of sampling whereby if you get caught you'll end up paying a large percentage of your royalties back to the original artist something which elicited a fair amount of discourse amongst the students in the days that followed. Eothen also very kindly greased my palms with the new Guilty Simpson album that drops at the end of the month and it is damn good, trust me. I was also given a sampler from his label Now-Again that was mixed by Oh No and there are loads of cuts there that hopefully will be winging their way to my collection in the weeks and months ahead. Massive respect to Eothen to coming up and serving a huge helping of truth.

Now seeing as we're talking about hip hop to a certain degree I thought I'd share this video with you and it features one of my favourite artists Ohmega Watts talking about the art of digging and what he has to say is fairly poignant. Milton Campbell aka Ohmega Watts is one of those guys that merges hip hop, funk and soul perfectly as illustrated on his must have records such as The Find. Seek him out if you haven't already.

Oh yeah and here is a superb instrumental from our man called The Platypus Strut and for all fans of afrobeat this is absolutely essential. Another one of my little hidden treasures that may have passed some of you by. This is the shit.

Ohmega Watts - The Platypus Strut

Now segueing smoothly onto my ultimate love Afrobeat I thought I'd highlight one of the more recent purveyors of the sound, The Daktaris who are a Brooklyn-based band of mostly white guys who have taken it upon themselves to have Nigerian aliases such as the highly inventive Femi 'Dokita' Doolittle and Alaji Milificent Agbede whose real names are probably Tim and Webster for all we know. This track called Musicawa Split is off their 1998 album Soul Explosion and is a great entry point to their music.

To end off this frankly random post I thought I'd share with you this video that I found from one of the many tributes to the incredible and sadly departed James Yancey aka Jay Dee aka J Dilla featuring some Detroit's finest, Ayro, John Arnold and Slum Village performing records like BBE (Big Booty Express), who Matt Edwards of Quiet Village, Radioslave and Rekid infamy admitted set him on course to record the superb Made in Menorca album a few years back, as well as the Billy Paul sampling Dollar and the frankly awesome Look of Love, it may seem a bit trite but Dilla definitely changed my life and it doesn't matter if I'm digging for house, funk, soul, Brasilian or hip hop records there is always a Dilla record to guide me. Much respect to the great man and RIP. I'm busy working on a post about him that is taking a while as I don't think that writing something on him in my usual stream of consciousness style is tribute enough to the impact that he has had on my life.

Oh, and if you would like me to link to your website/blog/whatever then please get in touch.

One Hundred Project : Steven McNulty

What is on your stereo at the moment?

Skream, Rinse 02 CD mix. A load of his tracks, a load of his edits and rerubs and loads other dubstep tracks. Dark when it needs to be, a bit lighter in parts.

3 records that changed your life. Why?

Coke Escovedo - I Wouldn't Change A Thing
My favourite track ever. I have a copy for every room in the house and that isn't enough. The 12" edit has an awful cheap transition from one loop to another and I like that bit the best. I've encouraged hundreds of people to seek it out and those that do always play it for me when they see me in front of their decks. It just makes me smile.

Meco - The Wizard of Oz
Whilst Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk is Meco's best known album, the fact that you can dance to a beautifully layered orchestral disco arrangement, that seamlessly drops into a munchkin "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" chorus, but never seems cheesey.

T.S. Monk - Candidate for Love
I bought this after hearing DJ Rahaan play it at Jigsawmusic in Birmingham. There was almost a Mancunian takeover of Birmingham that night, with a coachload from Electric Chair going down. The record reminds me of an ex-hooligan playing a harmonica solo in a suburban indian restaurant, of a dark basement, of Kelvin Andrews playing Electric Souls edits in Birmingham to a load of Mancs, of falling off the arm of a sofa but not spilling any of my pint. Good times.

What are you looking forward to?

Some summer cruising in my '70's street rocket Beetle.

What couldn’t you live without? Why?

I think I could safely live without most things, but my family and friends are the most important. Not the most interesting answer, I know, but honest.

Well cooked red meat would be a major grind to do without though.

Most memorable gig?

I'm lucky that my first gig was The Happy Mondays, with Donovan supporting. It was the most memorable because of the occassion, the Madchester thing being at it's height at the time, and me being the only person from school who went.

Who/what are your influences?

Barry White, Margaret Thatcher, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendegrass, Grace Jones, Mancuso, Erasure, my parents (who will hate me putting Margaret Thatcher) and everyone I have ever come into contact with.

What is the best and worst thing about the city that you live in?

The energy and creativity of Manchester is special, but the people are the most important thing. You know this. We didn't want you to leave. Oh, and being the birthplace of the industrial revolution. The worst thing is that, as much as I would like to move away for some time to experience a completely different culture, I love it that much it is unlikely to happen.

Given the accelerated pace of modern culture, what are we due a revival in?

As you say, it is pretty fast paced at the moment. Tamagotchi? Have they gone yet?

Hero? Why?

Barry White, because I am wholely convinced that when he died his essence lives on in this manc boy.

Is there anything else that you feel that we should know?

That if I was allowed 4 records up top the fourth one would be Vaughan Mason - Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll.

Steven and I playing at the Last Rites BBQ

Mix to follow when I buy a longer phono to PC lead, I've rearranged the living room!

Steven is a man whose record collection is perfectly formed, all killer and absolutely no filler. I had the pleasure of many a lost weekend with Steven while I was in Manchester and even had the pleasure of playing back to back with him on occasion where he kept me on my toes with his frankly brilliant selections. He is one of the Heavy Rotation mob that play at Jam St. in Chorlton once a month as well as being a vital cog in the Last Rites network. You'd struggle to meet a nicer fella, so in lieu of a mix I have put up a couple of tunes from Steven's influences for all of you to enjoy in the meantime.

Coke Escovedo - I Wouldn't Change A Thing

T.S. Monk - Candidate for Love

Monday, March 10, 2008

Four more for your .mp3 player

I know absolutely nothing about this record or its makers and I first heard this on the Jackie Brown soundtrack from a few years back and it definitely stood out for me. I hunted down this album by Manfred Hübler & Siegfried Schwab and although there are a few others on the album that are worthy this definitely stands out over the others for me personally. It isn't your run-of-the-mill funk album and it has an odd juxtaposition of horror, sex and funk and is probably a wet dream for some people out there and personally I only give it an airing when I am truly in the mood for it and today was the day. Play it loud or don't play it at all. Avoid the first 50 or so seconds though as it is slightly unnerving. Sold that one well, didn't I?

Vampyros Lesbos Sexadelic Dance Party - The Lions And The Cucumber

Etta James is the voice for me - it is raw, sexy and full of attitude and on this track Etta shows all of her voice's great qualities and then some. Some of you might recognise this track because of the Theo Parrish edit that was all over every nightclub a few years ago and as good as it is if I were forced to choose I would probably stump for the original, which more often than not is my policy when it comes to edits. Etta is the voice of a generation and her records have that timeless quality that mean that they'll still be in rotation in ten, twenty, thirty years time. Most of her stuff is worth picking up and if you're starting out then be sure to hunt down All The Way Down, which was so expertly used on the Idjut Boy's Press Play album from a couple of years back.

Etta James - In The Basement - Part 1

Hailing from New Zealand, DJ Fitchie and Joe Dukie are both founding members of the awesome Fat Freddy's Drop and on this record, which is one of their rare solo outings which they did for Japan's Especial records, which was pressed in their usual limited quantity, they merge Fitchie's skippy almost bruk beats with Joe's incredibly soulful vocals and everywhere that I have played this people have asked me what it is. It is one of those records that I'll never get sick of and when played at the right place at the right time it will go off, mark my words.

DJ Fitchie & Joe Dukie - Seconds

Gil Scott-Heron is one of my musical heroes. I have an entire section devoted to him in my collection and he's one of the only artists beyond Pepe Bradock and Fela Kuti that I will buy on sight safe in the knowledge that when the needle touches the vinyl that I will be instantly enamored with the music on the plate. I could go on and on about how much I love this guy and the themes and musicality enshrined in his output but at this time I will digress, all I can say is that you should hunt down his records if you haven't already as you won't be disappointed. I also heard that after a testing time he is back in the studio and recording and I personally can't wait for the results. This particular record was the tune that I started many a set with in 2006 and was the first record that I played in the Shack at the Chair the night that Gareth, Paul and myself represented Last Rites down there, a little factoid free from me to you next time you're debating rubbish over a few jars down the local.

Gil Scott-Heron - The Vulture