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Ambient-techno tribute mix : 1991-98

October 22, 2011 3 comments

For me, 1991 through 1998 is what I would refer as the golden age of electronic music and electronica. Be it IDM, Detroit techno, ambient-techno, it was a period where producers discovered new sounds, new labels such as Warp, Rephlex, R&S and GPR started to blossom and furthermore, composers such as Aphex twin and Global communication released some of their best material during that span. Since I was buying everything in that period I had the idea about a mix that would gather some the most essential tracks of that time. So here it is : My ambient-techno tribute, from 1991 to 1998. You can either stream it here or download it on my Soundcloud page

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Soundcloud and how to find absolute gems by unknown DJ’s

October 16, 2011 4 comments

As each DJ gets their Soundcloud page, it becomes an increasingly difficult task to keep up with the amount of mixes released and the up and coming producers unsigned to a record label, even an independant label or a net label. Then there are those endless possibilities in finding mixes that the Soundcloud templates provides. The planet is smaller, thanks to these kinds of sites which not only keeps track of everything that’s happening around earth but also enables you to find the mix that you wouldn’t have find otherwise. If you are like me and are a sucker for any mix nicely done either it’s funk, electro, electronica, downtempo, ambient, progressive house, deep house, acid house or nu disco, because you work in a office then this kind of research might suit you. Maybe you enjoy having new shit to listen to i.e. DJ’s, and vinyl junkies + record collector = musically eager to get anything new on a weekly basis…After all, what’s bred in the bone will come out in the flesh. In the few months I’ve been subscribed to Soundcloud, I have gathered a network of people in Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, and France that surpasses even what a blog template can accomplish. Therefore, I wanted to compile a list of top 10 mixes that’s worth checking out on Soundcloud, and above all, free and easy to pick up.

1) mOoLy – Plastix For Félix 18.09.2008 (Planeta Modular Mix)

4 hours of Plastikman wouldn’t it be too long ! Well it depends. The I :pods all have a pause button (you won’t need the stop button for this one beleive me) so you can have a piss mate. This mix is simply breathtaking. It’s the most cohesive and accurate thematic mix I’ve ever heard. Any Richie Hawtin is included here be it from Sheet one, to Artifakts, Consumed, The F.U.S.E. project or just some of the tracks recently released on Arkives. Apparently Mooly is located in Paris – France. You can find more infos about them here.

Full tracklisting here.

2) THC – Trentemoller – Tribute mix

An interesting DJ set that pays hommage to Trentemoller, my only complain is that it misses some its most enduring classics and it could’ve been longer as I am never tired to listen to its old EP’s especially those on Poker Flat, around 2005 to 2007 and his dazzling remixes of Royksopp : What else is there and Moby’s go. Look to Pete Tong’s Essential mix in a two parts released called The Polar mix is you want something more thorough. Nonetheless a solid endeavor with a mindblowing finish à la Window licker vs Trentemoller.

Tracklisting here.

3) Strickly Aphex by VLR

Fans of Aphex Twin beware ! This huge, massive and mamooth collection of tracks by the legendary Richard D. James. A living legend often dubbed the Mozart of techno, it spawns tracks from 1989 to 2010. A 3 hours mix…that could’ve last 5 ! Starting funny with the hip-hop quote of Window licker then it delves into ambient territory with tracks from SAW and SAW 2, but it is absolutely complete and accurate. The bloody essential remix of Seefeel : Time to find me is included here. As well as tracks from Polygon window, Caustic window, and his monikers GAK and AFX. Lots of remixes also such as The Gentle People – Journey. VLR is from Norway an is obviously a massive fan of Aphex twin, Big shouts to this incredible journey. Bloody essential and massive.

Tracklisting here.

4) Warp Bleep Era Tribute Mix

Here’s one for the old school fans of bleep techno that were there in the 1990’s. It has all those classics from Sweet exorcist, to Nightmares on wax, LFO, The forgemasters, Tuff little unit, and much more. Sheffield Bleep has put together some of the finest mixes you will hear, whether it be a Warp AI re-interpretation or his SCR tribute mix. This particular mix was an RA mix of the day. Anyone local to Sheffield would remember SCR, the radio station that launched a number of Sheffields finest electronic spinners. On this mix, Mr Bleep selected a number of his favourite tunes from the era 20 years ago. Clearly a must for acid house and early UK techno. When he plays Sheffield Bleep pulls on all these influences and more, expect to move your feet and mind in equal measure. Sheffield bleep is located in Sheffield, what else would you have expected ? lol.

5) The Music of Massive Attack (1988 – 98)

Awesome rare grooves mix of the samples used by Massive attack by DJ Hudson from the UK. Not only a gentleman but an incredible record collector with an uncanny ear for the funky sounds, as you can see on his blog. Quote from Hudson :This is a collection of records sampled or covered by Massive Attack from their first three LPs and the singles of that time. Shout out to Tony Hosey who used to bring all the Massive Attack records round to my house way back when. And shouts to Hudson for the funkiest I’ve ever in a long time. From Tom Scott, to Billy Cobham, Isaac Hayes, James Brown, William de Vaughn, Lowrell, Blackbyrds and The Emotions, everything is there.An essential musical history. Because if you don’t know the past how can you understand the present ?  

Tracklisting here.

Link to download it

6) Kraftwerked

Tim Zawanda is from Chicago USA, more known for their hatred of disco and their love for the Chicago Cubs than electro-pop from Germany. A DJ and a record collector, his mix of all the Kratwerk’s classics is not the most accurate technically but nevertheless quite fun to listen to. Recorded and mixed live, 1 take, no loops, no effects it was created for personal listening and to share amongst others, not meant to be an exhaustive compilation, just a selection of his personal favorites. As Tim mentions on his Soundcloud page. A great tribute DJ Mix ! Probably the best mix of Kraftwerk’s music I have heard … Kraftwerk role in influencing modern music is just huge from the Detroit’s techno scene or contemporary modern pop music to the hip hop. But that is just and understatement. Listen to the mix for further proof.

Tracklisting here.

7) A Boards of Canada tribute mix by DJ Tamaris

A DJ tribute mix of the ever impressive Scottish band Boards of Canada. Now if you follow electronic music and music at all you probably already know BOC, they just simply make magical music, awe inspiring melodies, beautiful soundscapes and lush ambient atmospheres. So I won’t go out and comment their music because it’s been done day in and day out. I’ll just comment the mix that Tamaris made because it’s a beautiful piece of electronic music, and it’s a very pleasant mix to listen to. First, it starts off with nice lullabies such as In a beautiful place out in a country, and then the mix just keeps getting better, with a seamless array of IDM songs from the BOC catalogue. Pretty much every BOC classics is featured in there either from Music has the right to children, the Hi-scores EP or Geoggadi, their sophomore album. It seems Tamaris has used Ableton Live in order to create the mix and I think his ear for music, is very uncanny and accurate. I don’t think mixing IDM is an easy task, as the BPM’s are often in an altogether different zone and the songs not always in the same musical key. The way Tamaris has arranged that mix makes it very pleasant to the ears, as he keeps the loop flowing just enough to maintain interest from the listener. So..it’s just the perfect companion to an airplane trip or a sunday afternoon. IDM DJ and producer from France, Tamaris is currently showcasing a mix of seminal Detroit techno outfit Underground resistance on his Soundcloud page. Check his MySpace for more. You can download the mix here.

8 ) Baumann electronics : DJ set live @t GESSAMÍ de St. Esteve de Palautordera

From ambient to dub, deep techno, minimal and synth effects this mix has it all. I am very picky when it comes to mixing and listening to ambient and space music because too often, the people who try to mix ambient indulges into and anxiolitic mood that is borderline sleepy. There is a difference between ambient, à la Brian Eno and Tetsu Inoue and musak. But sometimes, when a DJ’s is mixing less than dynamic, you can loose focus and delve into musak. That is far from the case with this mix from Jep Cuesta who hails from Catalan. Starting with an interview from HAL-9000 from 2001 space odyssey, it sets the mood for some dark ambient to start things off. Then, heaven starts growing inside your heart : a Lulu rouge remix of Trentemoller’s Miss you. Some krautrock / space vibes with Tangerine dream and Roedelius, plus the dubby techno of Dub taylor and CV313, Pablo Bolivar, Fluxxion (who used to be on Chain reaction) Quantec and then Trentemoller again. Rarely will I sit through a mix and wonder : how did he mix these two ? But such was the case with this mix from Baumann electronics. And the guy is such a great person ! Thumbs up Jep !

Links to listen and download.

9) Detroit by nightmp3 02 by Heinzmannfranck

This one I found by random by browsing to some friends of friends on Soundcloud. It’s a mix of Detroit techno or Detroit inspired tracks such as Slam : White shadows. Brilliant mix, with nice vibes and the perfect soundtrack to a Friday 2 am. Heinzmannfranck comes from Saint-Raphaël France…A far cry from Detroit but just a click away from an interesting journey from the mind of the true creators of Techno music.

10) Headphone commute : Oceanica

You’ve probably heard of HC great webzine that you can visit here. From their website : Sun… Ocean… Calmness… Being in a meditative state of mind, attempting to clear out all thoughts and rid myself of negative energy, I put together a mix to compliment my breathing. As the water sways in waves, so does my breath, and so does everything else. Rotations… Cycles… Beginnings… This ambient mix with a touch of dub is meant to relax your mind and take the stress away. Use it as a simple tool to bring peace into your restless soul…

Links to listen and download.

Categories: DJ Mixes

A chat with Gez Varley from L.F.O.

October 1, 2011 1 comment

A chat with Gez Varley, once member of the seminal techno outfit L.F.O., a ground breaking electronic group,  whose single”LFO” (on Warp records), their first record, went to no.10 in the UK charts (back in 1990) and sold over 150 000 copies. Their first album, Frequencies, sold over 100 000 copies. In 1996, he left L.F.O. for good and went on to do his own thing as G-MAN which he still does today. He’s recorded for a lot of labels over the years such as Force-inc, Warp, K-7, and Swim records.

1) Can you tell us how you and Mark Bell, while studying at Leeds met ?

We first met back in 1984 at a breakdance contest in Leeds…at the time though we were not friends as we were in rival breakdance crewsand we lived in different parts of the city…It was not until later in 1989 at a photography course in leeds that we met up again and became friends.

2) I started following the scene in around 1992-93 but was too young for the bleep house scene and the acid house frenzy. How was the scene, the music, the DJ’s, the record stores, and the industry back then in 1990 in the UK ?

The scene back then was fantastic as everything was fresh and new. By that I mean everything was new : groups, artists, record labels, even new parties. And new clubs as well. Above all :  new technology, keyboards, computers and drum machines.

3)  Musically speaking would you say you and Mark were mostly influenced by Detroit techno or electro from the 80’s ? Or, Phuture, Adonis & Kraftwerk, as mention in the intro of Frequencies  ?

At the early age of 8 I began to listen to heavy metal music. Then, by the age of 12 I was into electro and early funk. Finally, in 1986 I got in early house music followed by acid house. So it’s fair to say we were influenced by a lot of things.

4) Frequencies has sold over 100 000 copies and your first record went on to the top 10 in the UK Charts. You were then signed on Tommy Boy..! A British techno band signed to a hip-hop record label who liscenced Afrika Bambaataa’s seminal Planet rock. Wasn’t that weird ?

Yes, getting signed by Tommy boy was fantastic..It was a like a dream  come true also to remix Planet rock..I mean this was our all time hero record from the breakdance days.

5) How important was an independant record label like Warp records in the developpement of your career and those a like ?

Warp were very important at the start as they supported us and many others in the right direction but it was not until 1994 that they lost their direction for a while.

6)  I have this theory : you haven’t fully heard Frequencies idiosyncratic propreties (and especially those low frequencies) until you own it on vinyl. Agree or disagree ?

Yes frequencies was made to be played out on vinyl, you’re right !

7) Since LFO has split what have you been up to ?

Doing my own stuff as G-man.

8)  Why did you move to Germany in 1999 ?

I was in germany  most of my time as I was playing a lot of live gigs over here in the last few years and I met a girl and moved over to Wiesbaden to live with her.

9)  Last year, your music as G-man was used for the X-Box 360 game table tennis, and the TV ad for it. I guess it’s understatement to say that you must feel good about this ? Not to mention the LFO music for the VW Golf 30 years in the making…

Yes, it’s always good to have your music out on different formats  : the xbox 360 game was like a dream come true for me as I’ve always been a big fan of computer games since the age of 7. (The music in the VW Golf add is in fact Simon from Sydney from the Frequencies album here remixed by Aphex Twin)

10)  For those not quite aware of your EP’s or albums as G-man what would you recommend them ?

Check out ..Gez Varley “Bayjou paradis” on Force-inc records (My personnal favorite the EP : Quo vardis used in the XBox game)

L.F.O. : LF.O. (Leeds Warehouse mix) / Warp records 1991

My review of L.F.O. : Frequencies. Formed 1988 in Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom with members: Mark Bell, Gez Varley (1988-96) LFO (Low Frequency Oscillation), named after the Low Frequency Oscillator component of synthesizers, were pioneers of the Sheffield “bleep techno” sound in the UK at the start of the 1990’s and are best known for the early self-titled techno anthem “LFO”. Frequencies, their debut album released in 1991, 20 years ago, is one of the most tremendous electronic albums ever made.As of today, it still sounds fresh, unique, and unbelievable : just hear “L.F.O.” for churning speaker-erupting bass wedded to sharp beats and mind-blowing chirps. “We Are Back” similarly explodes with distortion (or is it just so loud that mere home speakers cannot handle it?) and rapidly expanding synths. For that matter, “Love is the Message”, “Mentok 1”, and just about every other track on the album are classics too. Quite honestly, THIS is where 90’s-era electronic music starts, and if history and influence are any guide, just may be where the music ends too. N.B. : This quintessential album gets repressed on vinyl on november the 11th. The news here. The guys who remastered it here.

Categories: Interviews
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