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Guest mix: UNDERSPRECHE

Featuring : Podcast + Underspreche

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One of our favourite releases of 2016 so far has been the Underspreche/Muslimgauze split on Optimo Trax.

Underspreche also have an excellent new 12″ – Subterrenus – out now on Optimo, so we asked the Italian duo to dream up an exclusive mix for us. Here it is!

Underspreche – Mix for 20 Jazz ‘Funky’ Greats

And this is what they had to say about it:

“‘Alive -Dj set’ is the name of our hybrid live where we use to play vinyl enriching the set with a live session  composed by drum machine, synthesiser, voices,samples and effects.

It’s a place for us where we could create something new experimenting every time,improvising!  In this mix we created exclusively for 20 jazz funk greats two re-edits: J.G.Wilkes Und Toresh – Comida Para Todos – Moodymann Und Ruth Yaakov Ensemble – Young Salgash Madre.

We did also some experiments mixing opera vocals on ‘Kerberos’ by Marc Romboy and Stephan Bodzin ,we played with samples ,we improvised with synths on ethereal soundscape from Jocelyn Pook  and we did a remix of ‘Nana’ by Acid Pauli .”

Buy Subterrenus 12″ by Underspreche


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Dance Dance Revolution

Featuring : Ströer

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And somedays all we want to do is dance.

Over in good old Albion, we’re currently existing in that bright moment of detonation where we’ve all been bathed in the flash but neither the sound or fury have reached us yet.*

The populace of Albion shuffle about, split into competing ‘it’ll all be fine’ and ‘I’m pretty sure that flash was bad’ camps.  Tents pitched, we all await salvation or destruction (or both).  Under the black canvas of the 20JFG tent we nervously glance out across the nighttime desert, mushroom cloud on the horizon, idly calculating the moment the shockwave will reach us.  And at times like these — times were time itself slows as the waves of shock and sound move in a stately dance across the desert floor — we have nothing better to do than dance.

stroerWhile listening to Nite Jewel’s excellent mix for The Fader we were reintroduced to Ströer’s delicious Don’t Stay till Breakfast.  Which first hit out ears during the heady days of nu-disco as part of Elaste’s Space Disco comp.

It’s all glistening disco-funk.  Almost as if it’s the idea of what disco should sound like, in those perfect black and chrome clubs with beautiful people wearing beautiful things moving in beautiful ways.  It’s got that Euro edge too (as the umlaut suggests, Ströer are German), with the slightly accented vocal making all sorts of existential invocations in advance of fucking.  It’s a wonderful double hit of nostalgia then, and when the future’s so bright it’ll rip your face off, what’s wrong with that?

Ströer – Don’t Stay till Breakfast

Get the reissue from Juno right here (other record stores / websites are available).

* Well unless you look or sound different, then the fury you’re experiencing is merely the fault of the rats.  The rats that have emerged from underground to witness the flash.  They’ve always been there, they’ve just been drawn to the flash.  Honest guv’.

FTRWYS

Featuring : Alex Reece + Bookworms

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We come from the future, so we love its music. Same applies to music which isn’t from the future, but provides the soundtrack for getting there. It comes in different flavours:

Sometimes it is an joyous jaunt, as with the elegiac psychonautic ragas of Hallogallo or Europe Endless’ motorway symphony.

Sometimes it describes a journey to Dystopia, like Throbbing Gristle’s cyber-psychotic blitzkrieg, or Ike Yard’s dirges of dehumanisation.

And sometimes it is beautifully indifferent. Music of this kind sounds intellectually fascinated with change and the possibilities that lay ahead, but cold about the fate of individual humans caught in the disruption, as if they were statistical noise distracting us from the most interesting thing, a.k.a. the evolution of our species. If Elon Musk had any music taste, these would be his jams. 

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Bookworms’ Xenophobe is one of the best dance music albums of the year. Mongy muscle in silky smooth threads, spinning contemplatively towards the next high. It’s an exercise in class to delight Roulé and Balihu fans alike.

STE-027 is the interstellar tour de force at its heart, an 18 minute long behemoth of chugging techno, pensive moods and a synth motif which propagates around us like jaggy surfaces in a procedurally generated hallucination. If Chiba City’s subway looked like a special-forces sniper rifle designed by Aaron Beck, this would be the core tune in the personal stereo of its algorithmically enhanced driver.

Bookworms – STE-027

Get Xenophobe from Bank Records.

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Alex Reece’s Pulp Fiction is one of those songs that we post in case there are any youngsters reading this blog unaware of it, perhaps because it lays buried under a million layers of the post-Internet content deluge, perhaps because drum ‘n’ bass isn’t cool and Goldie’s celebrity career didn’t do the Metalheadz brand any favours.

No matter. We think that Pulp Fiction fits perfectly with our theme today. This is the definitive Roller, a sleek vehicle slicing through the sprawl, under a night sky skewered by glimmering skyscrapers where honey-skinned jet-setters dance enthralled by the collapse below. So dark, so cool, this is a stone-cold classic.

Alex Reece – Pulp Fiction

Image above by Aaron Beck. Alex Reece image from GTA IV.

Black Square

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20JFG trades extensively in hyperbole, our enthusiasm for music and culture pushing us to ridiculous, giddy heights.  It’s fun and it’s an ancient MP3 blog in the age of streaming so, why not?

This post will go live a week after the UK referendum on membership of the EU.  It was not a good day.  I have lived through more tragic days.  I have lived through days that had and have had more affect on the world.  But on this ‘rainy little island(s) that could’, we’ve just had our cozy liberal dream of cohesion, tolerance and dull grey stability, torched.  It was that dull grey stability that allowed us to flourish, often in opposition to it but always ultimately caught by it.  Like family.

Maybe, despite a butter mountain full of expert opinion, we’ll do well.  A vote to leave was not a vote for racism, although it’s given succour to racists.  So let us hope that we’ll fight the resurgent fascism in this country alongside those who wanted to break our ties with the continent.  We all want a better world after all; mercifully few would have voted for calamity.

But if your better world involves kicking immigrants, muslims, people of colour and any other deviation from your nightmarish vision of British purity, well then, you can just fuck off.

Bagad Men Ha Tan & Doudou N’diaye Rose – Rohan

So today I bring you Celtic music from Brittany made in conjunction with a Senegalese drumming genius in 2000.  Music that closed the truly great 2015 Taiwanese film, The Assassin.  On the face of it, that’d be a parody of World Music baiting ‘fusion’.  But fuck that.  Fuck that not least because it’s just undeniably badass (although being exposed to it at the end of a film called The Assassin may have permanently influenced me here).  And fuck that because it has duelling fucking bagpipes over a massive Senegalese rhythm building and building until you’re ready to run up some steps in Philly like a Guardian reading Rocky.

Rohan is taken from Bagad Men Ha Tan & Doudou N’diaye Rose’s album Dakar.

Dancing music in the C20: disco (1972-73)

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Disco. Everyone knows disco. And bar that weird ‘Disco sucks’ campaign in the late 1970s, everyone likes it.

Despite the ubiquity of disco and its signifiers, though, as an umbrella disco covers a relatively broad spectrum of music. Italo disco, Euro disco, space disco and  HI-NRG being some of its more well-known variants. And a lot of different musics went into its signature sound – pop and salsa; funk, obviously. But the genre that really provided the primordial sludge for disco to sashay out of was Philly soul.

Spotify playlist: early philly soul (1966-69)

Philly soul was a smoother, more sweeping, more feminine antidote to funk. Well, OK, so it’s initial performers were almost exclusive male – its early adopters were The Delfonics, The Intruders, The O’Jays and Jerry Butler – so it’s debatable whether ‘feminine’ is the most appropriate word here, but certainly Philly soul took some the rhythmic quirks of funk while dialling down its aggression to nil.

Where in funk there were angry one-note blasts of horn, Philly soul was all about lush, breezy string sections. Where funk was radical, Philly soul was romantic. But not romantic in the slightly tortured, obsessive teenage way of Holland-Dozier-Holland Motown hits – this was painless music.

Based around the Philadelphia International label and songwriters Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell, Philly soul was danceable but graceful – it had a sweet but kind of elegant sound that disco would recontextualise to illustrate new levels of fabulousness.

A variety of records, from The Supremes’ 1964 pop hit You Keep Me Hanging On to The Temptations’ psychedelic soul classic Ball of Confusion contain letters that would later turn up in disco’s genome.

For our money though, the first disco song  might be Jerry Butler’s 1972 single, One Night Affair.

Jerry Butler – One Night Affair

In the late 50s and early 60s, Butler was a member of R&B group The Impressions, alongside Curtis Mayfield. He never reached the icon status of his former bandmate, but he had a string of top 10 solo hits in the late 60s and would later become part of the Philly International family

One Night Affair is a relatively lusty and masculine beginnings for a genre that would later become synonymous with gay empowerment, but it has that insistent, world-beating euphoria that disco patented. The idea that no matter how terrible life may be outside of these two and a half minutes, within the parentheses of the record’s intro and fade out we have a whole world of possibilities.

Further evidence of disco’s biological link to Philly soul is Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ two-part epic The Love I Lost.

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – The Love I Lost (parts 1 and 2)

The Blue Notes were a shining example of Philly soul archetypes, but The Love I Lost nevertheless might be the first disco classic. Those strings, slicing like regret. That bassline – like hands tugging at your hips. The drums kicking your heels all the way to the dancefloor.

The Love I Lost is a sad song, and it was written originally as a ballad, but in the gentle relentlessness of its Philly disco incarnation it taps into a new kind of energy, one that sad songs shouldn’t normally have. Disco would do this stuff well – make lost love sound energising; something to pirouette over rather than mope about.

Swelling Philly soul’s string sections to gargantuan proportions, the Love Unlimited Orchestra was a full 40-piece concert orchestra swirling like the sea around the walrus of love, Barry White. Their Love’s Theme/Sweet Moments 1973 single, was written and produced by Barry but didn’t feature his knicker-eroding baritone.

Released during the period when no one knew what disco was or where it could go, the majestic Love’s Theme forms a sort of disco symphony. The flip, Sweet Moments, sounds like a comedown to the a-side’s lovey, ecstatic buzz. Jazzy, minor key and bluntly repetitive, it staggers rather than swirls, feeling like some lurching walk of shame the morning after the disco rapture.

Love Unlimited Orchestra – Sweet Moments

Later in the decade, Tom Moulton, Larry Levan, Walter Gibbons, Shep Pettibone, David Mancuso and even Frankie Knuckles would shift the emphasis from songwriter as creator to DJ as disco auteur. This period of experimentation gave the world the remix and DJs developed the tools that allowed them to break down and reassemble the components of records into new forms, re-engineering them to better suit the delirium of the dancefloor.

Producers might understand recording, singers might understand heartbreak, but DJs understand dancing. For the early disco DJs, the dancefloor was a living organism – a fresh and undocumented area of study – and they were scientists.

But in this early disco period of 1973, disco was just a handful of ideas about dance music and a sound that could go anywhere.

Spotify playlist: early disco (1972-73)

I mean, ultimately where it did go was dance contests and these goons, but eh.

Carry on exiting

Featuring : Mats Gustafsson

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H.M. Farage rose into the skies of Devon on the 11th of January of 2046, under the nervous gaze of several hundreds members of the intelligentsia  – MPs and their staff, civil servants, the military, industrialists and landed gentry in tartan jackets. Eventually, the ship vanished into the darkness, and they all toasted and cheered.

The first phase of the mission was about to end. Britannia, the ‘brit-ship’ being assembled in orbit, would pick up its final load of equipment and colonists from the Farage, and start its galactic journey to find a new home for the English.

There were many goals for this mission.

The plucky, nostalgic wing of the Government wanted to show the world that England could still be a leader. Some of them even secretly hoped that the mission would find an alien civilisation for the English to trade with, now that it had become harder to do this in Earth.

The reactionaries had had enough of this planet, of its complexities and diversities, of its infuriating denial to leave them alone, its insistence on tempting their children with visions of difference, travel and discovery. A new generation of English would build its character in the genetic and cultural purity of the sidereal void, and all would be well.

The realists simply knew that England was politically, economically and environmentally stuffed and about to implode. Now that invading other countries, or joining global coalitions in foreign wars was out of the question, Mission Britannia was a final attempt to distract the nation with a big spectacle, to keep the show on the road for a bit longer.

So, on the 23rd of April, Britannia started its journey with 5,000 colonists, to infinity and beyond.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan. We have been able to reconstruct what happened after a thorough analysis of their transmissions over the 50 years since they left. This is a quick summary of what we found:

All experts agree that the biggest problems were technical. Critical systems – energy, recycling, climate control and communications – started malfunctioning very soon after the ship left. It is generally acknowledged that UK science and technology suffered after the English made it harder for foreign researchers and skilled workers to come into the country. Britannia was a lumbering, wheezing, breaking-down proof of that, like Akira’s Tetsuo with a bowler hat.

The political situation made everything worse. The reactionaries in Government  had insisted that at least a third of the colonists had to be chosen based on their racial purity and ideological loyalty. This was in order to prevent ‘degeneration’, and to quell any Independentism amongst colonists away from the motherland.

These ‘loyalists’ lacked the technical qualifications to keep the ship going, or the psychological make-up to deal with life in space – but they were big, and had a penchant for creative violence. They kept clashing and bickering with the ‘expert elite’ of scientists, engineers, astronauts and boffins in charge of the ship, who had awful flashbacks of being bullied by lumbering goons in the school playground. They ground their teeth and added new instructions to the algorithms regulating ship security and life-support. 

The last straw was a cultural malaise. It is hard to over-estimate the physical and psychic toll  of life in space, especially in a ship falling to pieces. The food was even worse than at home. The whiff of excrement caused by barely operational recyclers was all-pervasive. Many colonists decided to stop exercising and spent all their time watching cricket re-runs and James Bond films in their Virtual Reality gigs. Obesity – already a problem at the beginning of the mission – became endemic. It was only a matter of time before things kicked off, which they did.

Most of this is a matter of public record so we won’t dwell too much on the horror that was, which some have described as a mixture between J.G. Ballard’s High Rise and Alien.

Coups and counter-coups, political rallies and massacres, whole sections of the ship inundated with sewage or jettisoned into space, a final, failed attempt to turn Britannia around and bring it back to Earth which split it in two, leaving its carcass to float in space like a broken carrion fly, surrounded by clouds of fuel and frozen corpses, shrivelled fragments of St George’s Flag.

The final transmission we have from Britannia was broadcast from the command centre by J.S. Richardson, a 36 year old teacher from Milton Keynes, apparently hallucinating after his ordeal.

“The motion and heat detectors suggest that between 20-50 people are still alive in the ship. They won’t last long, and I can’t do anything for them. It’s all over.

Maybe they are not there anyway. Perhaps the internal sensors are failing, like the external ones. Over the last few hours, they have been picking up signals from the outside, which can’t be possible. Or maybe it is. Maybe the aliens have finally shown up to save us! Will we let them in? What will that do to our immigration numbers? [laughter and coughing]

[Transmission shuts down for several hours]

I must have dozed off. I had a strange dream.

I dreamt of a corridor of light, down which I floated while a coterie of shadowy presences gazed from the sides. I could feel them moving, staring at me, probing my mind with delicate tendrils, slowly shuffling my psyche this way and that, as if to get a general sense of the lie of my soul. They did this for some time, in total silence.

The only sound was a deep humming, which I first assumed was caused by machinery.  It slowly dawned on me that it was in fact their voices, a strange, unsettling chorus that coalesced into a message which I begun to understand, like words forming in my head. This is what they said:

We have watched you for long, analysed your progress, and found you wanting. You need to learn how to live with yourselves before you are allowed to live with others. You need to understand – as we think you have started doing, if only slowly – that when you shut everyone else out, you begin a slow suicide. You are starving your soul.

It is not duty to save you. It is your duty to realise what you are doing and save yourselves, for only that way can you mature as a civilisation. We hope that you will do this, and then we can talk. Until then, so long.

[And then, silence]

Mats Gustafsson – 01

This post was inspired by the UK’s EU referendum, Ligeti and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora. You can get Mats Gustafsson’s astonishing Piano Mating from Blue Tapes/X Ray.

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Guest mix: Alex Paterson from THE ORB

Featuring : Podcast + The Orb

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We’re pretty psyched about the prospect of seeing The Orb live in Brixton next month, where Alex Paterson will revisit the classic Adventures Beyond The Underworld album.

This special event even features a special Orb line-up, featuring previous Orb collaborators Youth (Killing Joke), Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy (Gong/System 7) and Paul Cook (The Sex Pistols), among others.

People should be bored of bands performing their ‘classic’ albums live by now, but the prospect of a live Adventures Beyond The Underworld is an ambitious and exciting project – the album was conceived as a two-hour long psychedelic trip; a kind of dream music that segued surreally between ambient, progressive, psychedelic, breakbeat, space rock, hip-hop and dub lysergic states.

Not only are we witnessing this magnificence live, but we are honoured enough to have an exclusive guest mix from the master himself, Alex Paterson, drawing from and recontextualising components of his 1991 masterpiece.

Alex Paterson – The Orb’s Adventuring Beyond The Stars mix

Tracklisting:

  • Maria Kpucmanuhckar – Russian Love Song
  • Orb – Backside Of The Moon
  • Wagon Train –
  • Orb – Into The 4th Dimension
  • Q1.1 I
  • Custard – Boom Bang Bombay
  • Spastik ( Dub Fire Rework )
  • Star 6&789 The Orb
  • Princ Thomas Alpine Evening – The Orb
  • Outlands – Remix – The Orb
  • Alpine Princ Thomas Reremix
  • Towers Of Perpetual Dawn
  • Loving U
  • Thursday’s Keeper – The Orb
  • Huge Ever Growing Remix – Orb
  • DDD ( Flow Remix ) – The Orb
  • Perpetual Remix – Wearherall – The Orb
  • Lovin U – The Orb
  • Chill Out – KLF
  • Let The Music Play – The Orb
  • Lovin You 60 Min Edit
  • LFC – African Version – The Orb

You can buy tickets here for The Orb performing Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld live, July 29, Brixton Electric


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