Truancy Volume 73: Jazz Neversleeps

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With only two releases to his name Belgian producer Jazz Neversleeps isn’t breaking any world records, however he is pouring his energy into jazz influenced and hip-hop informed house music. Listening to a track like “Live in Maredsous” demonstrates the ease at which he appropriates samples and flips them into melodic gems. Aside from writing music, he co-runs On-Point – a record label that since 2010 has put out house, funk, and hip 12 & 7-inches. Between all the artists one thing brings them all together – a love for hip-hop. We had a chance to speak with Jazz Neversleeps about where his tastes originate and the reason for his extended absence. If that wasn’t enough he decided to give us a peak into his record bag with his lengthy Truancy Volume.

What does your musical background consist of? “First and foremost I will always credit my parents for granting me access to their record collection ever since I was like four years old. I was lucky to have my dad’s turntable in my room, and through them I first heard anything from Stevie Wonder to Kraftwerk and George Duke. All of that mixed with children’s songs of course. Chris Rea’s “On The Beach” was a big album for me as well. At that time my aunt’s boyfriend was a DJ at national radio and he often gave me records… I got quite a few techno classics from him, haha (of course I had no clue back then). In my early teens I got the first Jazzmatazz on tape through an older friend and shortly after Gang Starr’s Daily Operation. That was the first brainwash I guess. Shortly after, on a school trip to England, I discovered jungle and early drum ‘n bass, blasting through the speakers in a recordstore. The rolling funk breakbeats blew my mind… Never heard anything like it. A lot of the stuff I play now I only got into later, that’s things I discovered the last, let’s say seven years. I have to say the older I get, the more I get back into the pop side of things. I feel I kind of neglected the melodies I loved as a kid, and spent too much time listening to the beats.”

Can you tell us a little bit about the music scene in Belgium? “It’s a small country, but that only has advantages as far as I’m concerned. There’s things happening, and there’s definitely possibilities to do something. Brussels for example is not as saturated as some other capitals surrounding us. Another thing is you can play in different cities or villages which are barely a 30-minute drive apart, yet you meet new people and the vibe is different. Let it be known, I love the little villages! Apart from that I love the beer, the absurdities and the dualism of beautiful and ugly architecture here.”

You’re also closely related to the label On-Point. How does the label fit in with your musical goals? “On-Point is the mothership… Me and label boss Alex have travelled quite a few musical paths together, we also dj together, and although we’re -of course- different, we share musical visions. I love the label because it’s the child of one of my best friends, if it wasn’t for On-Point, I probably wouldn’t have thought of releasing tracks.”

There haven’t been many releases on the label, but every record seems to be loosely connected to hip-hop, jazz, or house. How important are those types of music to you and the label? How did they affect your musical output? “Hip-hop is definitely a common factor for a lot of us. Not only for the label but for a lot of the musical peers I meet. For a lot of us it was (musically) the first thing we were really into. So yeah, amongst other things that definitely affects how I make music or play records. As far as the label, I’m happy to see we’re getting a certain pace in the output. The 10th release will get pressed soon, and I’m hyped about that one.”

You haven’t put out a record since 2011’s “Take Care Of You / Diepgank”. What have you been working on since? “That’s partly true, haha. I make sketches really fast but when it comes to actually finish a track, I’m a slug. And even worse, I’m ultra picky about my own stuff. I guess the prospect of getting it released on vinyl gives me that nitro push, though. Anyway, I did a few remixes for friends which will come out soon on wax and I made a record with a friend under another name. This one track some might know called “Linh” is coming out soon as well on On-Point. Apart from that, let’s see what happens!”

The role of the DJ means different things to different people. How do you approach DJing? “It’s a cliché but I play the music I love, I do it with love, and I want to keep it interesting for myself as well as for the crowd. I get bored pretty easily, so I guess that kind of reflects in how I play.”

Aside from the new record, what else can people expect from you this year? “An attempt at letting my hair grow, which is something I haven’t done for the last 10 years, haha. And musically… A new collabo, who knows!”

Truancy Volume 73: Jazz Neversleeps

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Words by Jonathon Alcindor, 05 July 2013. Leave a comment

Recommended: Huerco S. – Apheleia’s Theme

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It’s no secret we’re fans of Huerco S., so much so we asked him to mix Truancy Volume 56. With musical excursions on Wicked Bass, Opal Tapes, and Anthony Naples’ fledgling imprint, Proibito we’re not the only ones to take notice. In the last two years the Kansas City based producer has synthesized his scuzzy beats into a near perfect assemblage of fading melodies, thick kicks, and ghostly audio snippets. He has simultaneously brought together the, often alienating, experimental with the irrefutable grooves of house and techno. That said, who better to give him his US debut than the guys at Future Times?

Apheleia’s Theme” is as direct a track as we can expect from Huerco. At nine minutes, it’s a sluggish stomper with a kick drum that sounds as though someone’s beating on your door. The simplicity of the beat is entrancing and putters along bringing with it fresh elements. It’s not easy to create a dance floor oriented track that holds a person’s attention for its entirety, but he’s done it with this one. There’s something to be said for how stripped back each track is (and not in the mid noughties minimal sense.); there are no extraneous elements and everything has a purpose. Just a quickly as you fell into the groove it’s over with almost no warning (it’s a blast back into reality or the next track.) On the flip, “Ausschachtung” brings up memories of his tape for Opal Tapes. Its structure is vague and the backbone is built around the dull thud of the kick drum. Once again, he reverts to the sounds of intelligible voices and an eerie blitz of synths. The phrasing and beats are so off it’ll take a pretty adventurous selector to pull for this one (and we mean that in the nicest way possible.) The closer, “Cercy“, is where this record really shines – it’s absolutely glorious. Jumping straight to the point he works no more than four basic elements for the first few minutes. With a clap it lurches into an utterly seductive bassline that brightens up the mood. In comparison to the swing of the beat the placement of the bassline is almost robotic, but has a stunning effect. Midway through, it breaks into synthetic drones and proggy stabs all of which add a sense of euphoria. It all boils down into a magnificent concoction of modern house, which completes one of the best records we’ve heard in ages.

There are few artists like Huerco S. out there and even less sound as authentic. There’s no pretention or gimmick – this is the music he has always made, take it or leave it. “Apheleia’s Theme” feels like he’s finally hit a stride. He’s exactly where he wants to be and making music that takes all of his sensibilities into account. To top it off it’s completely danceable. What else could we ask for?

Huerco S.’s Apheleia’s Theme is available now on Future Times. Continue Reading →

Words by Jonathon Alcindor, 04 July 2013. Leave a comment

Interview: Berlin Community Radio

Berlin Community Radio

London has NTS, New York has WYNU, Los Angeles has Dublab, Glasgow has Subcity Radio, Amsterdam has Red Light Radio and Berlin has…? Until recently there as been no Berlin based community radio similar to the stations just mentioned which is very surprising considering the reputation of its music scene and the amount of talented and creative people based in the city. Thankfully, local promoters/djs Anastasia Filipovna and Sarah Miles have taken it upon themselves to rectify this problem by launching Berlin Community Radio in March of this year. So far the station is composed of pre-recorded sessions available through their soundcloud page but after the recent acquisition of a permanent studio the station will soon be going live. Luckily, we got to exchange a few words with them to get the lowdown on BCR and they also each picked their favorite BCR shows which you can stream below.

Stream: Sarah’s pick - Hunch Music Radio #1

First of all, could you tell us about yourselves and how you both got involved in the music scene in Berlin? “We have been living in Berlin for 4 (Anastasia) and 5 (Sarah) years, respectively and we both decided to move here for the music scene. Sarah worked in music PR for two big electronic music labels and at the same time she started DJing and got a residency at the Farbfernseher club. Anastasia moved her to study and she also picked up DJing (thanks to London’s Girlcore collective for the encouragement) which led to a weekly radio show on NYC’s Viva Radio.

Then, since nobody else was reaching out to all the interesting artists that were either living here or passing through the city we decided to start our own online radio show podcast called Welcome To The Room at the beginning of 2011. The show is recorded in the Farbfernseher club in Kreuzberg during the day/early evening and we usually record a two hour session of music and interviews. So far Andrew Weatherall, Move D, Gerd Janson, Axel Boman, Gatto Fritto, L.I.E.S.’s Ron Morelli, Delroy Edwards, Steve Summers, Maxmillion Dunbar and many more have all passed through our room.”

What made you decided to start BCR? “Having had great feedback about the WTTR show we realised that we could take it a step further and also that we could give more people the chance to create interesting programmes about Berlin and what they are doing here. We have been observing NTS, East Village and Red Light Radio and saw that a similar platform for Berlin was missing so, as with WTTR, we decided to do it ourselves.”

You recently found a permanent studio, could you tell us a bit about it? “It lies in the middle of our little universe which is close to Maybachufer and Hermannplatz in Neukölln. It’s on street level and we have a big front room which we hope will soon become a meeting place for like-minded Berliners from all corners of the creative scene.”

Why do you think there are not any other community radio stations in Berlin? “Some people have said that the radio culture in Germany isn’t the same as in the UK or the US. Pirate radio stations practically don’t exist here and it seems like a lot of FM stations either cater to mainstream culture or an older audience. Also, it is only very recently that so many people from around the world have been moving here and starting their own projects so perhaps there was not as much demand for this kind of radio platform before.”

Stream: Anastasia’s pick -  Urban Mutations Radio #1

You guys recently had your launch party, how did it go? Could you tell us a bit about the people who played? “Well. Unfortunately, the weather literally pissed on the concept of an open air day time BBQ but 80 loyal friends still showed up and supported us, ate some Chilean hotdogs and sat in the cold. There was a live performance by Heatsick who is our art contributor. He releases on PAN record label and his live act involves loopy Casio sounds, singing, shakers and sometimes a light show and perfume. We also had other contributors from the station present an hour of music – CreamCake, Lodown Magazine, Noisey, Pueblo and Welcome To The Room all DJ’d.”

Will you be organising more parties under the BCR banner? “We have a monthly residency at Prince Charles and the next event is on July 7th (details below). It will feature a rare live performance by Hyperdub’s Cooly G, a DJ set fromFuture Times boss Maxmillion Dunbar and also DJs from the station. The next party after that is on August 18th will feature a live show from Slava and a dj set from local promoters Urban Mutations.”

What is the concept behind the parties? “Our concept is to present an interesting live show as well as a visiting touring DJ we personally love alongside a selection of DJs from the station – always with an emphasis on variety. The parties are happening during the day but are not meant to be an after hour party. We want it to be more like a MOMA PS1 WarmUp than Panorama Bar. Also well as the music there is always great food and we want them to be community meetings.”

Stream: Author’s pick – Welcome To The Room No.26 with Aurora Halal & Sarah Miles

Judging from the website and the shows BCR seems to be an English language station, was this intentional? Will there be any German language shows in the future? “So far yes, the scheduled shows are all in English and in some ways this was intentional as we wanted to create a station that would cater for the many nationalities that now live here as well as our international following. We even have some upcoming contributors who have said they would prefer to speak in English even though they are German, so they don’t limit the audience and also because they are more used to reviewing music in English when they write for international magazines. Having said that, we are definitely leaving the door open for German speaking contributors and any other language for that matter.”

As well as music shows BCR is planning on having shows on other topics. Could you talk about the current non-music shows and the shows you have planned for the future?  “Heatsick is hosting a contemporary art show which should be online very soon and food critic Tommy Tannock will be doing a show about Berlin’s eateries. We have also scheduled a show by Pablo Larios, the assistant editor of Frieze Magazine, who is going to do a bi-weekly talk show with art-related content, guests and artist interviews.

There are still some slots free and we are currently looking for people to do interesting shows on all kinds of topics- film, current affairs, science, theater, TV-shows, politics, culture, sociology etc.. so if anyone is interested they can drop us a line at info@berlincommunityradio.com.

Berliners can come see what Berlin Community Radio is about this Sunday July the 7th at Prince Charles and for everyone else follow them on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date about the live launch.

Event pages: FB, RA. Continue Reading →

Words by Warren O'Neill, 03 July 2013. 9 comments

Recommended: Various Artists – The Health of the Oceans

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When you think about electronic music in Glasgow, you think of Hudson Mohawke or Sub Club – titans in their respective fields who have gone on to become ambassadors for the city’s music scene. The industry’s gaze has rested squarely on Glasgow since the rise of the LuckyMe and Numbers collectives, a gaze which seeks (and struggles) to identify the common thread between the city’s biggest musical exports.

But an undercurrent of talent in Glasgow remains untapped by this gaze, perhaps operating on too small a scale to command international attention (or a Yeezy co-sign). Sometimes the people putting in the most work receive little to no recognition, and are rendered obsolete in the grand scheme of things. The city would not be such a creatively fruitful place were it not for the good-natured ‘come to this afterparty’ or ‘we should make a track together’ exchanges that continue to bring so many brilliant minds together. Lauren Martin recently did a great job celebrating this tradition and the individuals doing things, as she put it, ‘in the name of a damn good time’, for Dummy’s Glasgow Spotlight series. Certain venues and communities nurture fresh talent and provide breeding grounds for DIY collaborative efforts: Subcity Radio, Cry Parrot, Analogue Anonymous. Even a visit to Rubadub can become more than just an ordinary record-shopping trip thanks to the approachable and knowledgeable staff.

The Health of the Oceans” compilation tape is the product of one such collaboration, originally offered as a memento to guests of Gris Gala, a one-off night of live music held in Stereo‘s basement. The tape is a physical embodiment of all that makes Glasgow’s underground such a humbling environment – spontaneity, attention to detail and a willingness to put audience experience first. The tape is the baby of Wavy Graves (Josh Hill’s Subcity Radio venture), One Mile High (Aaron McLaughlin’s publishing outlet) and Leaving Records. Leaving Records is, of course, the prolific Californian label which has released music from singer-songwriter Julia Holter and Ras G,  a luminary of the LA beat scene.

Stream: Various Artists – Health of the Oceans

Leaving Records is co-owned by Matthewdavid, whose “gapandbeat_rough1” is first up on side A. It’s a densely textured track; layers of low-end bass vie for centre stage with the bubbling synth lick. In his first-ever interview Matthewdavid said his biggest influences were “plants, wind, water and the sun”. This certainly rings true of “gapandbeat_rough1″; although it shudders and grinds with mechanical precision, there’s an overarching organic quality to it.  He sees his juxtaposition of the natural and the not-so-natural right through to the end, when the song fades out in a commotion of pneumatic whirs and cricket chirrups. Matthewdavid’s cut might not deviate from his usual formula but Best Available Technology‘s “Vulture“, which follows, indulges a subtler and more restrained side of the Portland producer’s artistry. The track bears few similarities to the warped techno sludge of “Sony HiFi Side B City Jitters“, available for free on Opal Tapes‘ recent “Cold Holiday” compilation. No, with its muffled pads and feedback that whines forlornly, “Vulture” has more in common with the softer sketches found on his “Excavated Tapes 1992-1999, Vol. 1“.

The first Glaswegian contribution comes from Dam Mantle, who teams up with Baker for “Dig the Fourth“.  On it, a free-wheeling brass section flutters triumphantly over a whimsical female vocal, South American percussion and plodding double bass. The track is a departure from Dam Mantle’s previous work, being less dancefloor-oriented than his 2012 LP “Brothers Fowl” and more indicative of his new jazz inclinations. Further in, contributions from Tomutonttu and DIVA ramp up the intensity. The Finnish Tomutonttu, who runs the Vauva label, abandons any concept of melody for his “Nahinahin Ranta“. It’s a cluttered collage of sound, arrhythmic to the point that the tumult becomes measured, and artfully so. DIVA’s “Star Cabin” closes side A with a string of psychedelic arpeggios. Its sluggishness is suffocating: the drums thud like they’re buried under six feet of dirt. DIVA is a performance artist and you can visualise the disconcerting effect this murky track would have in a live setting. LEVERT_PCOLA‘s “rend2quik” opens side B and acts as a gentle palette cleanser following side A’s psychotic climax. We struggled to find out much about the artist but the track is a soothing 80-second screwed-up boogie affair.

The tape’s finest moment comes from the three-track run on side B of local musicians: Golden Teacher, Dick 50 and Bactarian. Golden Teacher is a supergroup of sorts composed of members from Ultimate Thrush, Silk Cut and Lovers’ Rights – see what we meant about Glasgow’s keen collaborative spirit? Their contribution is taken from their first-ever recording session at Green Door Studios, when they were known as Golden T-shirt. “‘why did you enter the…’“‘s slimy take on funk is positively Drexciyan, and there’s some foreshadowing of the sound that would emerge on the group’s later EPs for Optimo Music. The unruly synth line of Dick 50′s “God’s First Salon” fizzes with menace, abandoning the good-natured swing of the Golden Teacher track. It sounds like a swarm of angry bees congregating over a relentless kick. The onslaught soon paves way for a cacophony of instrumental solos, each as unpredictable as the last – bongos, a triangle, a steel pan – before submerging under a wall of frantic guitar screech. Bactarian’s “Classics” is a pure nosebleed techno death march. Its synth whistles like a space shuttle beam while the tempo pogos from fast to slow like a factory line gone awry.

The last half of side B distances itself from Glasgow, closing with offerings from LA (Lucky Dragon‘s “ooga booga bongo music“), Denmark (Jakob, Mads & Mathias‘ “Woodface“), Belgium and London. Dynooo‘s “CR X” is the most cinematic track on the tape, its graceful build disrupted by a cathartic crash. The cycle becomes captivating, but just when you get comfy it transitions into Felicita‘s “I’m Trying To Find You“. Felicita’s use of suspense and space is devastating: “I’m Trying To Find You” hovers precariously, constantly threatening to descend into utter chaos. A guitar is strummed tautly amidst rapid machine-gun fire and ghostly vocals – it’s a skeletal reconstruction of grime set in a joyless dystopia.

It may only be forty-five minutes long, but “The Health of the Oceans” compilation packs in a hell of a lot of ideas in such a short space of time. It’s not an easy listen – it’s jarring, abrasive, and downright alienating at times – but it’s rewarding. With so many different pockets of experimental electronic music showcased, you’d have to be really fussy not to hear something you liked. But it’s those who can appreciate the tape as a whole that will really benefit, from the moments of sun-kissed ambience to the groggy impressions of techno. For the tape is proof against unfounded claims that Glasgow’s scene has gone stale – if you think what the city has to offer peaked with Rustie’s “Glass Swords” (and the series of watered-down copycats that followed), you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Start with this tape.

“The Health of the Oceans” tape is available for free download from the One Mile High store.

Words by Sophie Kindreich, 02 July 2013. Leave a comment

Recommended: Fuewa – Birth Palace

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Fuewa is the new project from Dorset native Chris Sallows, who’s previously released for Svetlana Industries as Microburst. His work under that name was fuzzy yet structured dancefloor music, combining crisp percussion and basslines with hazy atmospherics and found sounds. The “Birth Palace” EP, the fifth release on Sonic Router Records, sees him eschew any rigidity for more ambiguous tones, leaning towards the world of ‘outsider house’. Following in the footsteps of label mates Hav Lyf and Torus, this EP is another foray into the nether world of dark and murky textures and sounds.

Stream: Fuewa – Birth Palace Preview (Sonic Router Records)

Blhok” opens with a portentous gurgling, crashing cymbals meeting chugging percussion. It’s structured around a simple, lovely four-bar riff that’s shrouded in scuzzy percussion and effects, countering its sweetness with a rough whirlwind of bleeps and clangs. Never straying from a strict 4/4, it is nonetheless a stirring opener, one that would easily terrify an unsuspecting dancefloor. “Outa Banks” is a deeper affair, using a stark two-chord refrain that wouldn’t feel out of place in a horror film to drive through the gloomy undergrowth. Rattling drums meet with painful moans, adding to a chilling sense of dread. “Undress Invert” continues with this ominous theme, as pitched-down spoken word meets a sorrowful riff that cascades over echoes and roughly hewn percussion. “La Void” is well titled, opening with the unsettling sense of a world collapsing, before it kicks into a plodding beat and a simple drone, with unspecified vocals buried deep in the mix. A series of squeaks that almost sound scratched in lighten the darkness briefly, yet the thumping beats and clanks survive longer than all else, drifting off into oblivion.

Time Paint” is a particularly impressive piece of work, starting with the sound of a dark windstorm, a sea of arpeggiated bleeps at no fixed tempo swirling around in the current, wafting back and forth across the skies. The distant sound of percussion steadies this aimlessness, as dark moans terrorise the background. Strained synths clash with a humanoid grunting, building on the thematic structure laid in place by that wandering line of bleeps, which sees fit to return to close out proceedings. If hav lyf’s album finished with the sound of a dying dial-up modem, this release concludes at the site of a long-abandoned factory, its machinery come to life to cry out for love and repair. “Black Illusion Fall Out“, which rivals Actress in the amazing title stakes, offers no release, no catharsis. Instead we’re left lonely and mournful, with a feeling akin to that after the experience of Tomorrow’s Harvest, a similarly apocalyptic effort. Cranking machinery, Popol Vuh-esque droning, the fizz of a scorched earth – this is not a cheery record. That said, it’s a bold statement, a dark world view clouding a brave talent. If Fuewa marks Sallows’ move away from the dancefloor, it’s a considered success. Another great release by Sonic Router, whose reputation is bolstered at every step.

Fuewa – Birth Palace is out on Sonic Router records on July 1. Pre-order here.

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 01 July 2013. Leave a comment

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