Premiere: Terriers – Believing The Crystal

terriers Truants premiere

Dublin duo Terriers have been slowly crafting their sound since first causing ripples in 2013. Last year they dropped House No 9 on Major Problems, which featured a searing remix from Tuff Sherm. Shortly afterwards, it was revealed that they had been the beneficiaries of the tutelage and patronage of Levon Vincent, spending three months under his apprenticeship in Berlin. This chapter in any act’s narrative might prove an albatross – it’s certainly more than just a throwaway titbit – but Terriers have continued to craft elegant yet rugged techno tracks, none more so than “Believing The Crystal”, which we premiere here exclusively.

Appearing on Octagon, the debut release of new Dutch label Rhythm Nation, it’s both solid and nebulous, chunky grooves and washes of extra-terrestrial synth coming together beautifully. A direct yet emotive synth lune clambers to life while disparate elements shake and dance amidst the fog, offering just another taste of their undoubted gifts.

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 19 June 2015. Leave a comment

Truancy Volume 120: Karen Gwyer

Karen Gwyer Truants

Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan but now residing in London, Karen Gwyer has become a firm Truants favourite since her debut release in 2012, releasing records on labels such as Opal Tapes and Public Information whilst collaborating on records with fellow producers like Torn Hawk. Having found a more regular home for her productions via No Pain In Pop for the last two years, her newest release titled the Bouloman EP sees her forthcoming on the brilliantly consistent Nous label; home to the “Fluenka Mitsu” record from Call Super that came (and went very fast) earlier this year. We expect a similar response for what could be considered Gwyer’s most textural club driven productions to date, falling somewhere in between a John Heckle, Actress and early Steve Bicknell record all combined into one. Hopefully coming out before the end of the month, you can stream snippets of the three tracks below.

In an interview with the Quietus in November, Karen Gwyer carefully describes the aesthetic she is striving for in her own music as wanting it to be loud, banging and not what people expect, whilst still meandering between house, techno and hugely experimental noise. There’s none of her own productions in her Truancy Volume (from what we can see in the tracklist) but we can’t help feel that small description perfectly narrates the hour long mix she has recorded for us. There is house and techno, but at unexpected tempos ranging from 118BPM to the upper echelons of 144BPM for a substantial duration. It is loud and bangs from very early on. This is all intricately layered throughout with noise productions from the likes of Acre and Nadia Khan, blending the percussive elements with the beatless with the upmost attention to detail to the overall sound. If there wasn’t a tracklist included we’d have been very hard pressed in telling the Acre/Villa Abo section at 35 minutes apart to the point where we may be unable to listen to those tracks singularly ever again. It is this singular vision as a whole mix that makes our 120th Truancy Volume one of the most unique listening experiences we’ve had in our series so far. Here is what Gwyer had to say on the mix which she kindly sent over whilst away in the United States:

“This mix is the result of some very focused dives straight down into several different label holes (hence the recurring artists), combined with a few assorted new and slightly less new favourites. I love hearing tight curation across loads of releases on a label. Never having run a label myself, I’m really impressed with how solidly they all hold together sometimes. It’s as though I’m roaming through a massive multi-room gallery of crazy good, seemingly disparate sonic shit, and I’m coming out of it bearing witness to a singular vision. This isn’t news to most people, I know, but in the process of preparing this mix, I really took the time to indulge. So thanks for that.”

Tracklist: 

Heckadecimal – Bentings Bang Side A_2
Yellow Hyper Balls – Fuck Off
Unknown – Untitled
Yellow Hyper Balls – Take Your Clothes Off
TML – Residuals
Community Corporation – Grandmont Rosedale War
John T. Gast – Congress
Aisha Devi – Throat Dub (The Hieroglyphic Being Experience 9)
Acre – Untitled 2
Villa Abo – Luminous
Heckadecimal – Floater
Yellow Hyper Balls – Forgery
Nadia Khan – Selective Thoughts
Iueke – Tape 5.2

Karen Gwyer: Website, Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter

Words by Riccardo Villella, 17 June 2015. Leave a comment

Interview: Jupiter Jax

Jupiter Jax Truants Interview

Thirty years on and records cut during house and techno’s foundational period still enthrall. Their sonic palate, formed as much out of necessity as of choice, were the by-product of recycled vinyl, secondhand gear, and 1980s DIY recording methods. Many musicians entranced with era take the grayscale route and zero in on the raw unpolished edge that drives so many early tracks. Jupiter Jax, on the other hand, paints in technicolor.

Visions, his debut album, radiates warmth. These are jams for a bright future, not a dystopia. Wiggling acid bass lines, dreamy vocals, intricate drum patterns and the occasional digi flute weave together in harmony. Featuring contributions from Xosar, Mykle Anthony and Virgo’s Merwyn Sanders, Visions may echo the warehouses of the midwest, but its heart is speeding down a coastal highway. It should be no surprise then that this meticulous producer by night is Rudi Agius, Ph.D. by day. We were eager to learn more about the scientist behind the vibes so we beamed over a few questions. In the process we learned a bit about computational models, the Maltese club scene, and the creative power of curiosity.

Malta sits at the crossroads of many different cultures, what are some of your earliest musical memories from there? I think they have to be my father playing the piano. That is definitely one sound that has reverberated throughout the house since as far as I can remember. Naturally, I started taking piano lessons which then opened the door towards synthesizers and eventually electronic music.

Mind telling us a bit about your work in computational biology? It sounds nuts! Computational biology I guess is us trying to create computational models of systems and events that happen in our bodies. These models can then be used to address problems like discovering and designing new drugs or even understanding how cancer cells move about. My research is particular centered on the actual event of say, a protein drug finding its target in our bodies. In most cases, not necessarily in all, you would like a drug to hold on to its target as strongly as possible. The less time it stays on its target, the more time it has to tag onto other unwanted targets, which leads to potentially bad side effects and also a less effective drug in general. So I worked on developing A.I. algorithms which can predict the time a protein drug spends attached to its target.  Because if we can predict that, then we can apply mutations to a drug to make it stick more and more and more… to its target which results in a better drug. So yeah, it is kind of nuts, but also more fun than it sounds. Or at least for me it is!

Is there any overlap between your scientific and production work? Lots of discipline we’re guessing! I think one overlap which I value strongly is that you can do both of them at any time of the day you want! No 8am to 5am crap like that. But I think the real parallel is that both are effectively a search for the unknown. You have to be a curious person in a way. With research you’re at the edge of discovery and creating new knowledge. As a result of your research, some new knowledge about something, now exists in the world. Similarly with music, you’re creating something which didn’t exist before. So I guess the parallel is scientific curiosity with musical curiosity if there exists a term as such. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that anything you’re creating is necessarily highly significant or impactful as one would wish it to be, but you can safely say it didn’t exist before! Discipline in the sense of hard-work definitely comes into play. I think unless you’re exceptionally talented or a genius, anything you want to succeed in, has to be done obsessively and consistently.

You recently brought Space Dimension Controller out to the island. Do you throw events often? Ever find yourself in the lab the morning after one? Me and my cousin used to throw a bunch of parties in Malta under the name of Squadron since we were like 16 years old. We were hooked onto the whole scene going on in Holland at that time with Bunker/Crème/Viewlexx etc. So most of the parties revolved around those artists. I stopped once I moved to London to pursue my studies, but since I’m back for a while in Malta now, I decided to do something. In fact, the reason I brought SDC over, besides his amazing music, is the fact that his DJ sets remind me a lot of the sets we used to hear in the parties we did. They’re always very vibrant, non-monotone and touch upon different genres.

How is underground music received in Malta? There is this one club called ‘Liquid’ where pretty much all of the ‘underground’ parties by different promoters take place. Or at least, that’s where some of the few parties in Malta happen where the word ‘underground’ doesn’t have to be explicitly stated as a gimmick when promoting the party. But yeah, the scene revolves around this club, and although it can be a little bit biased towards techno, it is very healthy and everyone pretty much knows each other. Like we have this online calendar where we inform each other what dates we have confirmed for an event so that there are no clashes between promoters. You have to keep in mind that promoters are effectively catering for a very small group of people here. So if two events happen a day apart, both are affected, as most of the people would not afford to go to both events. The plus side of this specific/limited crowd however is that you don’t have random people stumbling upon the club. The people who are there, are there specifically for the music and for that specific night. So you are playing to a very targeted crowd and they tend to be much more into it. It is also five minutess away from where I live (not that anywhere is too far in Malta), which is quite handy when I want to just pop in and out to listen to someone specific.

What draws you to classic Chicago house sounds? You really know your stuff! What about that place and time speaks to you? I think there are many things. Firstly, what really draws me, and this can be also said about most of the Detroit techno coming out at that time, is that all of that music comes from a place where music was not yet highly genre specific. So with Chicago house you could have anything from a crazy 707/303 track to something full of lush strings and melodies. This contrasts greatly with how formulated certain music genres have now become. Also, since music was less reachable, and electronic club music was at its infancy, producers then, had very much less influences to compare to or get inspiration from. In a way I think this led to more creative and freaky stuff. Another special thing about that time is that someone who was not necessarily trained as a classical musician, was now suddenly making music with some Roland drum machine and a cheap synth. You could say music making was accessible for the non-musician, and again this lended itself to more interesting pieces of music. I guess it is the same thing happening in recent years with all the freely available software. If you were making music in the 90s or even early 00s, you had to invest, you had to buy gear, you had to be serious about it. Now you can have everything on your laptop for very cheap and making music is highly accessible. So again, whatever your background, you can meddle with music. Which is great, as this again lends itself to all this freaky and amazing stuff you hear all the time from new producers.

How did the collaboration with Merwyn Sanders from Virgo come about? Was it thrilling to work with a legend? Well first off, I’m a big fan of the whole Virgo Four/Jungle Wonz/N.A.D vibe, some of the tracks they made are timeless classics in my opinion. The collaboration came about when I was talking with Stephen Breaux (Sir Stephen, also on 100% SILK), who was helping me find a vocalist for ‘The Light’. He introduced me to him, Merwyn loved the track, and that is how that happened. Yeah it was kind of surreal in a way, I would have never ever thought that one day I would have Merywn himself doing vocals on one of my tracks. He is also a very lovely person to work with! So all in all it was an amazing experience.

Visions came bundled with Visitors, a cassette of additional tracks. What is their relationship to one another? Both Visions and Visitors come from the same mindset and most of the tracks were made during my 4 years in London when I was doing my studies there. Also a bunch of similar gear was used on both of them, mostly the Korg DW-8000 and Roland Juno-60. So I guess it makes sense to have them together, as I’m guessing if you like ‘Visions’, you would be somewhat into ‘Visitors’ too I guess, or vice-versa. In general, I like music which cannot be easily labelled into something, so hopefully it is something I managed to achieve with both of them. Both Visions and Visitors touch upon different styles of music, but all are linked together with some ethereal atmosphere. So I guess you can say they are my ethereal take on different genres of music.

Are there any promising Maltese producers that we should keep an eye on? The island is bubbling with talent right now, seems like everyone is doing great music! It would be unfair for me to mention any person in particular, but I think you will be hearing more and more from producers from Malta in the coming years!

When you’re not in the studio or the lab where might we find you on a day off? This question made me realize how boring I am, as I’m only in either one of those two places. And that also includes weekends!

Jupiter Jax’s Visions is out now on 100% Silk.

Words by Stephanie Neptune, 11 June 2015. Leave a comment

Truancy Volume 119: DEBONAIR

truancy-volume-118-debonair-truants

Don’t call it a resurgence. London’s NTS is one of several key radio stations in electronic music culture, alongside Rinse FM, Berlin Community Radio and Subcity Radio to name but a few. One of the most exciting and invigorating presences on radio is that of Debi Ghose, aka DEBONAIR, whose fortnightly show bridges the gap between dank EBM, hands-in-the-air French house anthems and upfront techno business. As well as delivering our 119th Truancy Volume, we spoke to her recently about her musical journey and why she chose bangers over (micro)biology.

What have you been up to lately? “I’ve been working on the mix! I went to Hong Kong and had a little holiday and played a gig out there. I’ve also just been working quite hard – I’ve done some voiceover work – had a couple of gigs, just the usual kind of things really – living life, trying to balance everything and mix it up!”

What led you to where you are now, DJ wise? “I’ve always been a music lover, which is quite a twee answer, but I started doing student radio back at uni, and I haven’t stopped really. After I graduated I did a community radio show and then I got an internship at 6 Music, so that’s why I moved to London and started working in radio. Then I started doing a show on Resonance called the Brixton AllStars, exploring the south London music scene. I did interviews with lots of south London artists, stalwarts of the area – I interviewed everyone from Linton Kwesi Johnson to Loefah on that show. After that I joined NTS at the beginning, I started working there and doing a show there, and it was only then that I found my sound and started getting booked for gigs. I think it’s been building quite nicely.

Which university did you go to? “I went to Warwick University; I studied a medical microbiology and virology degree – for a laugh. I did microbiology as opposed to biology because it’s a lot more human focused, it’s a lot more about epidemiology and human affliction, and I always found that aspect intriguing – as opposed to the life of proteins. I’m still very much interested in the disparity in the world, which was one of the main things my degree highlighted – I wouldn’t pursue being a scientist, I certainly left my degree there, but disease affliction and the economics of it I still find really interesting.”

All this time you were studying this, you were doing radio on the side? “Yeah, well I started working in record stores when I was 15 and was very involved in my local music scene growing up. I went to university and, to be honest, it was culturally dry, so I very much thought that I had to create my own enjoyment and create a scene for myself, so my little outlet was doing my weekly radio show. It was a really good student radio station, one of the best in the country at the time, and I’d always listened to John Peel and Late Night Love and various local radio in my teens – I started doing radio because it was quite natural to me. Having worked in record stores I had a lot of music, and the radio library was really great, so I didn’t have to get new stuff – I started getting a fair few listeners in the local area, and I never stopped.

What were you listening to when you were younger? “When I was a teenager I was very much into alternative rock, the Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, the early Red Hot Chili Peppers stuff, but then I also started discovering mix albums. It was weird though because I didn’t have a context for it. So there were tracks by, say, Pépé Bradock that I really loved when I was young – but I didn’t even know until I moved to London that he was a celebrated artist! I remember listening to “Mouth” – that was one of my favourite tracks on a mix CD I had – and I remember thinking ‘this is a jam, it’s a shame no one else knows it’, and then I moved to London, and I think I was listening to it in the NTS office at some point and everyone’s like “classic tune!” and I thought ‘what, really?’ So I didn’t have any context for dance music growing up, but it was something I was quite drawn to. That 2manydjs CD was the first one that made me realise that I could mix all the strange stuff I was listening to with dance music.”

You run a night with Chloe Frieda (who presents Alien Jams on NTS) called Linear Space – how did that come about? “That was just me and Chloe really, we were friends from the station and I think we got booked for one or two of the same gigs, so we thought it would be good to start DJing together and doing gigs together. At first it was at The Star of Kings, but then afterwards we thought it would be good to take it somewhere like the Alibi where we could get on guests as well. It’s just quite nice because we have our distinct styles but there’s definitely overlap in what we play and what we like. It made sense that we could provide interesting music ourselves while also booking guests we both had a real interest in.”

You tend to play a lot of weird EBM-type stuff, but then a lot of fun party music – would that be your musical MO? “I definitely want to be playing things that other people aren’t, which I would hope is a reason to come and see me. Obviously there will be some classic tracks – I’m not shying away from that at all, and I don’t shy away from pop bangers either. I played some Cocteau Twins in my last show, I’m always reliving great pop tracks. But yeah, just experimental electronic tracks that maybe haven’t been celebrated in the past. I’m always digging to try and find them and use them in my show – I think there’s so much stuff that never really got much attention but is just brilliant music”

And that crosses over into your mix for us? “Absolutely. It’s a strange one because normally when I do a mix it ends up really weird or really dark, sort of entering into creepy electronic stuff – but when I started doing the mix for you guys I went with my gut. I thought it might end up being quite a banging dance floor mix like some of my shows – with the energy of the [online] audience behind me they can often end up quite banging in the last 20 minutes or so, but I just went with what I was feeling at the time. It was a couple of weeks ago, the first burst of really good summer weather when I was putting it together; it’s all pretty old music, there’s nothing that current in there – essentially it’s just a lot of my favourite music that is about as summery as it’s gonna get from a mix from me!

Have you ever considered going into production? “Everyone asks me this! If I bump into someone I haven’t seen for a while they’ll ask ‘so why aren’t you producing?’ I think it’s a good time to have a dabble, I might start playing this year, but that’s not to say I’m trying to become a producer or anything. I just think it’d be a nice to get a little bit more creative, and start looking at the mixes I put together in a slightly more creative or lateral way. Maybe. I don’t want to say yes! I’m certainly interested in having a play around and want to keep learning techniques and things, but I wouldn’t hold out for DEBONAIR the producer just yet.”

What’s your drink of choice? “A whiskey and soda please!”

And when was the last time you danced? “Wifey. Shouts to the Wifey crew! I was not up for going out at all, but it was the last Wifey and it’s held at a brilliant venue called the Lift which is also getting shut down – it’s where I’ve enjoyed some of my favourite parties in London so I had to go down. The Wifey guys did a sterling job, they played some of my favourite tracks from the last, what, five-six years, so in the end I was not expecting it but there was some dancing, there were some power moves.”

Tracklist:

Will Powers – Adventures In Success
Can – One More Night
Howard Ingram – Sacrestone 72
Shinehead – Know How Fe Chat
Part Time – What Would You Say?
Anne Clark – Poem Without Words / Angel Haze Poem – I Like The Girls
Rhythim Is Rhythim – Kaotic Harmony
E.S.P. – It’s You
Rosa Yemen – Larousse Baron Bic
In Aeternam Vale – Give Me Your Money George
Josh One – Contemplation (King Britt Funke Remix)
Joane Skyler – Partial Recall
Medio Mutante – 17 Años
Todd Rundgren – Love Of The Common Man
Kenny Larkin – Sympathy

NTS Radio – DEBONAIR – Alternate Thursdays, 5-6pm : TwitterFacebook

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 09 June 2015. Leave a comment

One On One: Trackmasta Lou – Today Is A Good Day (John Heckle Re-Animation)

John Heckle Truants

Grown out of a monthly basement party thrown in Glasgow around 2008 and initially guided into fruition with the helpful advice from Arne Weinberg after his move to the city, Tabernacle Records has become somewhat of a record collector’s delight since its debut release in 2010. Headed up by Joel Shaw and Andrew Ingram, they’ve firmly established that they’re capable of smoothly migrating from successful club night into fully fledged label. Whilst the road from club night to label has been a heavily recurring one in recent times, the combination of old-fashioned A&R and a strong sense of development in the relationship with their artists has meant that quality has remained at at a familiar high throughout their 31-record deep discography. While quite a number of their early releases were gained from focusing on artists who played at their early parties such as The Third Man, John Heckle, and Mark Du Mosch, their roster has since expanded into hosting regular material from Fancy & Spook, Jeremiah R and the enigmatic Lost Trax. We also can’t help but have a special place in our hearts for Tabernacle seeing as they’ve also quietly been flying the flag still for online music blogs in the form of Slabs Of The Tabernacle, sporadically posting links to a series of brilliant mixes from affiliates and fellow inspirations of the label and party.

The track in particular we want to talk about today from the Tabernacle fold has made its way around over the years; popping up every now and then in sets to floor-filling reactions, but it’s been a small while since we’ve heard it out and we’re firm believers that if you’re a house or techno DJ then this record should never leave your bag. The original from Trackmasta Lou — a close affiliate to Underground Resistance and primary member of Detroit collective Scan 7 — uses a repeated string sample for a slow uplifting house cut that’s perfect for those warm-up slots, but full marks go to John Heckle who smashed it out the park with his ‘re-animaion’ of the track. Stripping away the uplifting bassline and essence of the original, Heckle keeps in the string sample but reworks it with the most jacking influenced percussion. The 707 claps sound truly gorgeous and the whole track is an addictive bomb for its six-minute duration. Discogs user ‘MrElReplicante’ says it’s a track that will stay with him forever and despite not being the biggest of secrets, we wholeheartedly agree.

Words by Riccardo Villella, 09 June 2015. Leave a comment

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