17 July 2006


Okay, so I signed-up for Droid's 'Bloggariddims' podcast thingy, then rashly offered to do one of the early ones (this is actually #2 in the series) without having a clue what form my podcast would take. So then I decided it wouldn't have any dubstep, or any current music at all, instead focusing on a few 'golden oldies'. But planning a proper continuous mix seemed like too much hard work in the time given, so then I thought I might try doing something like John Eden's 'RSI Radio', which operated at a 'John Peel' pace, but my own attempts came out shit. So then in desperation I just spent an evening recording a bunch of tunes and half-arsed mixes into the laptop, then edited the mess into something listenable the following day. Yes, there was actually some post-production this time. In fact, quite a bit of editing went into this, to the point where it became part of the creative process. There's a few cool/irritating (depending on your point-of-view) '80s-style stutter-edits in there, which kinda fit in with the overall retro vibe. To think that, back in the day, it would take an experienced studio engineer several hours to splice tapes together for that effect, yet now any old fool can do it on a freeware program like Audacity in a matter of moments. This is progress, I suppose.

Overall, this podcast is like a good-time party mix, Gutter-style. Its about having some fun, getting a bit sentimental, having a bit too much to drink, making a pass at an old girlfriend and generally making a fool of yourself, but not really caring too much, because you're among friends...and complete strangers. It came out okay, although now I wish I'd put more '80s 12 inch extended-edit mixes in there.

And I wish there was more Detroit Techno in there.

And another track by Joyce Sims.

And at least one track by Chaka Kahn.

And I wish I'd gone back a bit further...as far back as 1981...but no further, cos anything before that which wasn't just Hit Parade surface-tension would probably be stuff that I've discovered after the event. This is only for music that I experienced as it happened, in real time.

Somewhere there's a parallel universe where Radio 2 sounds like this every day.

Here's a blow-by-blow account of the podcast's content...

Section 1
LFO - Intro Loops
Model 500 - Milky Way
Farley Jackmaster Funk - The Acid Life
Chemical Brothers - Fuck Up Loop
Bassbin Twins - 2 Turntables And A Crate Of Skint

This first section was mixed live using my Numark cd-j decks. I decided to experiment with the loop functions on the Axis 4, extending out a few sections from the "Intro" to LFO's classic "Frequencies" album (17), the continued influence of which cannot be underestimated. It's the Greatest Album Ever Made. Its taken me 15 years to realise it, but that's the truth. In my world (and what other world is there that I should give a shit about?) "Frequencies" is the best album ever made. It's better than "Led Zeppelin IV", which, despite my best efforts to make contact, never meant anything to me ever. It's better than "The Modern Dance", which is a shambling, unfocused trainwreck by comparison. It's better than "The White Album". I don't need to go into in-depth analysis to explain that - just play the two back-to-back and its obvious which is the superior record. Besides, the "White Album" was made by people of my dad's age, so why the fuck would I like it anyway? I could probably respect the opinion of someone who claimed that "In A Silent Way" is a better album than "Frequencies", but in my world, "Frequencies" is perfect. Perfect sound. Perfect beat. Perfect poise. Perfect length. Perfect mix. Perfect title. Perfect record label. The sleeve design is almost perfect, which is good enough for the purpose of this argument (the sleeve design is predominately black, which matches the spacey blackness of the music within, which is Detroit distilled in the test tube of Chicago by the Bunsen Burner of Dusseldorf, created with black secret technology by two skinny white kids from the city of Leeds, in the North of England, which is in itself a perfect scenario). It contains a track called "LFO" which was a hit single. Perfect. When forced to playlist "LFO" on his show, Radio 1 disc jockey Steve Wright proclaimed it was 'the worst single ever', live on air. Perfect. (Steve Wright is now a Radio 2 disc jockey, and I'm not, which is anything but perfect, but I digress...). When they were offered a spot on Top Of The Pops to perform their hit single 'LFO', LFO refused. Utterly perfect. Then they fucked-off and did little of any consequence for several years. Perfection achieved. "Frequencies": my favourite album, ever. "LFO": my favourite hit single, ever. LFO: my favourite 'pop group', ever.

Oh and by the way, that's my voice you hear at the start, pitched-down electronically to mimic the vocal at the start of the original Intro track. I'm sure most people will get the joke, but just thought I'd better point it out for anyone out there who hasn't actually heard the Best Album Ever Made.

This leads into some posh mid-90s Detroit techno from Model 500 aka Juan Atkins from the album "Deep Space" (10). I have a special fascination for Juan's work, going right back to his earliest cuts with Cybotron. I always liked that stiff 808-electro undercurrent - a harder, tenser funk than the frantic 909 sizzle of Derrick May, plus he had that whole sci-fi philosophy in place - a head-in-the-clouds visionary. A true dreamer of dreams. His output from roughly 1985-90 had that edge. Tuff, urban, afro-spacious, phuturistic machine-funk - the perfect absorption of Kraftwerk into black music (massive apologies to the great Afrika Bambataa, but Juan kicks yer ass, buddy). Yet I decided to use a track from the mid-90s, when Juan was probably a bit past his prime. No matter, cos I still reckon "Deep Space" was a great album - better overall than "Landcruising", released by that whipper-snapper Carl Craig the same year. Significantly, that year, which was 1995, was also the year that Detroit Techno and I finally parted company. I left Juan floating in deep space, and lost Carl on the einbahn. Occasionally I hear snippets of things that I could swear sound like really boring 4/4 deep house, but I pray I'm mistaken...

I'd intended to fade-out the LFO loops, but couldn't quite bring myself to do it, so they continue throughout the whole of Juan's track and then mix into Farley Jackmaster Funk's "The Acid Life", one of my favourite examples of my favourite drum machine ever, the Roland TR-808, in full effect (in fact all my favourite 808 workouts come from this late '80s period). It's got that distinct 808 groove - cold, mechanical but somehow managing to swing like fuck, cos the 808 was one of those machines that just swung naturally, like it had a 'James Brown' circuit, or something. Surely it's no coincidence that the 808 was the only TR drum machine with a black skin? Farley used practically all of the 808's sounds in this track. Those claves and cowbells mean more to me than an Amen loop ever will. The 808 doesn't like to share stereo space with other instruments. It likes to have plenty of room to flex its muscles. Sometimes the rimshot will get friendly with an echo, whilst the kick drum tunes itself into a frequency so deep you'd think it was a sub-bass note, and suddenly pure dub-space is achieved. The 808 was the first drum machine to actually improve on the human/acoustic version (with the original Linn LM-1 coming up fast behind). Marvin Gaye understood that when he recorded "Sexual Healing". I've seen the old footage of Marvin performing that song, smooching and twitching in time to the 808's precision sex-funk - one of the greatest God-given Souls of all time seduced and enthralled by a machine. An important evolutionary step, methinks. Certainly up there with Sly Stone's earlier "...Riot Goin On" in the league of spark-inducing bio-technological groove precedents...

(...meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Kraftwerk were busy recording "Kling Klang". The connections weren't immediately apparent, but it all came together in the mid-late 80s, when the Chicago gang first dared to let the machines take centre stage, to allow their emotions to flow unhindered through the wires and circuits, to trust in the machines to express something that words and biology could not achieve alone...)

(...but of course its never really that simple, because while Kraftwerk were recording "Kling Klang", and Sly was recording "..Riot..", Lee Perry was sitting in a shed at the bottom of his garden in Jamaica, dreaming of the future through a haze of ganja and rum, and Suicide were busy reinventing the rock'n'roll spirit through machine rhythm over in NYC, whilst George Clinton, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock (to name a few) were already busy laying down the afro-analogue foundations, whilst Georgio Moroder was imagining new electronic methods to make people dance, whilst Brian Eno was...thinking...always thinking...whilst Richard H. Kirk was listening intently...and where would any of them be without Delia Derbyshire, anyway? Or Steve Reich, or Terry Riley, or La Monte Young, or John Cage, or Sun Ra...? This paragraph needs to end now, I think...)

I never owned an original Trax copy of "The Acid Life", but its available on Warp's indispensable "Influences" 2-disc set (16), which should be in everybody's collection. God knows why, but from there I went into a one-bar loop of the Chemical Brother's "Fuck Up Beats", from their 1995 debut album "Exit Planet Dust" (15), which sent me hurtling into shameless Big Beat revivalism with "2 Turntables and a Crate Of Skint" by Bassbin Twins. I really liked a lot of that Big Beat stuff at the time, and why bother pretending otherwise? Mind you, my enjoyment didn't extend to actually buying many records - this one is taken from the "Essential Skint" compilation (12), given away free with the January 1998 issue of the now defunct Select magazine. I'm sure you can pick up a copy for 50p in hundreds of charity shops throughout the UK. This is the most recent piece of music in the whole Podcast. There's nothing else I wish to say about it. My previous self (the dj/vibe conductor) made a split decision to use it, and my current self (the editor/post-match commentator) has decided to respect that decision, no matter how inadvisable it might appear.

Section 2
Renegade Soundwave - Kray Twins (Easy Mix)
Dave Howard Singers - Yon Yonson Meets Dr. R-R-Ruth #1
Steinski & Mass Media - We'll Be Right Back (Re-edit)
Rhythm Device - Acid Rock

Back to the tail-end of the '80s with four unmixed tracks that rocked my world 'back in the day'. Renegade Soundwave's totally critical "Kray Twins" first came into my life over the airwaves when John Peel played it on his show sometime in '87. To say that the earth moved would be an understatement. "Kray Twins" combined crunchy hip-hop beats, digidub bassline, soundtrack-sampledelica and Garry Asquith's slurred, vaguely menacing vocal drawl, and it felt like clinical precision smashing into total fucking chaos. There was a primal savagery and insolent swagger at its heart that lifted me out of the chair and threw me across the room. Crucially, it was a British gutter-tech-punk collision of a kind I had never experienced before, and remains a central influence and inspiration to me. This is the "Easy Mix", a shorter edited version on the CD single reissued by Mute Records in 1992 (11), which I feel hangs together better than the full-length version.

Next comes more sampledelic mayhem care of The Dave Howard Singers, which was basically this Canadian guy, living in London's Camberwell district, called Dave Howard and anyone else he chose to work with. This track comes from the remix edition of his Kurt Vonnegut-inspired "Yon Yonson" (4) . I actually tracked Dave down and interviewed him back in the early days of this blog, so anyone wanting to find out more should go here. One of the main points to consider was that Dave came from more of a classic song-writing tradition, but he always had that little techno-monkey on his back pushing him down strange career-crushing paths. This track is the furthest out into studio-as-instrument remixology he ever went. Incidentally, since that interview I had a hand in reuniting Dave with all his old master-tapes. But that's another story for another time.

Next is some proper New York-style cut-up Hip Hop courtesy of the legendary Steinski, from the 'Hard Sell' remix edition of "We'll Be Right Back" (9), released in 1986. Steinski was a real '80s hero for me. He didn't actually release many records, yet pushed the boundaries of hip hop production, editing and mixing everytime. Then its a quick hop back across the Atlantic to the heart of the Benelux, with the devastating "Acid Rock" by Frank De Wulf under the alias Rhythm Device (8). Released on the Music Man label in 1989, "Acid Rock" straddles New Beat, EBM, proto-hardcore and is also a genuinely innovative dance-rock hybrid. I actually covered this track a couple of years ago in my first Belgian piece, but what the hell. Besides, this is the version with the Deep Purple riff at the start! It was mind-blowing stuff at the time, trust me...

Section 3
Jack Frost And The Circle Jerks - Shout
Edwards & Armani - Up Your Bum (Acid Petrol Mix)
Armando - Downfall

Genuine Chicago Acid minimalism from Jack Frost (aka Adonis) and Armando, both taken from my mate Mike's genuine rare-as-fuck Trax EP (6) which I still haven't given back, collide with some genuine, original Belgian '89 acid, care of Edwards and Armani, who's "Up Your Bum (Acid Petrol Mix)" is another damn fine example of the New Beat effect, in full-effect. This one came out on the seminal Belgian label MG Records, although my copy is a German pressing on the ZYX label (5), which probably isn't as desirable from a collector's point of view. As Doppelganger rightly pointed out, the original New Beat was a more subtle animal than the full-frontal sex-crazed beast that V/Vm has since brought into being. "Up Your Bum" is suggestive in a more cheeky, flirty way. It lets you glimpse a bit of stocking-top under the lycra mini-skirt, and it encourages you to stare at its ample cleavage, but you never get to see the nipples, which sums up my sexual experience in the '80s perfectly.

But if this is indeed a mini battle between Chicago '88 and Ghent '89, and if I'm being totally honest, the guys from Chicago probably win. Armando's track is just so stripped-back and raw...I doubt there's even any midi involved. It's probably just a Roland TB-303 slaved to a TR-707 drum machine via the Sync 24 DIN connectors, with each machine programmed on its own internal step-sequencer. The track is very dry and airless with little in the way of studio enhancements. Its a live jam - man and machines feeding off each other, lost in the moment, the creative exchange captured onto tape with an immediacy and energy level that still shines through today. The Jack Frost tune is similarly sparse and lo-tek, although it does have some nice flanging on the hi-hats. This is what acid house is all about, as far as I'm concerned. I listen to this section now and think I should've done a whole hour of oldskool acid. And I would've made sure I stayed at the original tempos, too. This shit operates around the 120bpm mark. If there's one thing I cannot stand it's djs pitching these tracks up to fit into modern dj sets. Acid at 130-140bpm just turns into fucking Euro Acid circa 1992-onwards, which bores the living shit out of me. You pitch-up these old Chicago tunes and not only are you destroying their groove, you're also pissing on their souls. Speed kills. There should be a law against it.

Section 4
Mantronix - Get Stupid (Part II)
Bass Generator - Tibetan Jam

Brief spoken interlude from an old bootleg cassette (which I forgot to include in the picture). I can't remember the lady's name, if I ever knew it, but she was introducing the acts at The Cities In The Park festival in Manchester in the summer of 1991. It wasn't a particularly great festival, although much of the music me and my mates were playing in the car journey and on the boombox in our tent was the sort of thing you hear in this podcast. The festival was okay, but the tapes we brought along were better. Our vision was better. Our hopes and dreams for music were better, too. In the summer of 1991, anything seemed possible. The sky was the limit. I'm dedicating this podcast to myself, the person I was in summer 1991, and I'm also dedicating it to the young lady, who's name I forget, who was a gorgeous brunette, who took a lot of shit from the crowd for being a simple, sexy lady with a big smile and a big heart.

Then its back on the 80's hip hop, with a couple of very odd, possibly even unhinged, examples. First come the mighty Mantronix with a track from their third album "In Full Effect" (14), called "Get Stupid (Part III)", which is like a bizarre gameshow prototype for Del La Soul's "Three Feet High And Rising", featuring 'Dave the Original B-Boy' as he tries to tempt Mantronik to part with his computer in exchange for wonderful prizes. The answer is, of course, a resounding, Max Headroom-like "No". I wrote a couple of posts about Mantronik in the early days of the blog, which sum up my general feelings about this man. Next is the completely bonkers, but totally ace "Tibetan Jam", which I've credited to Bass Generator, cos that's where I got it from, though I think the true creators of this masterpiece are these guys. Bass Generator was this dodgy hardcore label in the early '90s that released some really badly-produced bootleggy material. This version of Tibetan Jam is on the b-side of the "Is The Clonk Alright" 12" (2).

Section 5
Man Machine - Shout
Kicksquad - Soundclash (Hyper Mix)
Beltram - My Sound

A brief mixed section, that's a sort of pre-jungle grab-bag. All the best hardcore music was made before 1993 (folds arms, cocks head arrogantly, ignoring the cries of outrage). Here we have some ruff UK breakbeat-rave from Kicksquad, lifted from the 'Kickin' vs. Vinyl' double-album (7), which had a massive impact on me. Beautiful sleeve art by Junior Tomlin, too. Breakbeats always sounded great when shackled to the pounding 909 kick of House. Then from one 'champion sound' to another, with Beltram's "My Sound", an original Belgian anthem via NYC, on the mighty R&S label (3). As for Man Machine's "Shout" (1)...I can't remember what that would've been classed as at the time. Hardcore-techno-house-blah blah blah. We weren't that bothered about micro-genres back then. Things were a lot more open minded. Whatever, it's a wicked little 4/4 stomper that always got the adrenalin pumpin' back in the day.

Beaumont Hannant - Latur

Lastly, a quick jump forward, or perhaps back, to the mid-90s, and the final track from Beaumont Hannant's "Texturology" album (13). If you weren't around at the time, you might be forgiven for thinking that 1994 was all about Jungle. Well, perhaps if you were living in London it was, but for some of us, just moving out of our youthful hardcore phase, looking for something a bit deeper emotionally, 1994 was also the year that the intelligent/ambient/armchair techno movement found its perfect pitch. Like a spiral galaxy gradually coalescing around the white-hot nucleus of Aphex Twin's first "Selected Ambient Works", this was an album-orientated movement spearheaded by Warp's "Artificial Intelligence" compilation in 1992. By '94, it was spewing out luxurious albums the size of solar systems, with Autechre's "Amber", Global Communications' "76:14" and Hannant's "Texturology" being three examples which, over a decade later, I still listen to and consider to be 'classic' albums. But whilst the Autechre 'brand' still remains very visible, and "76:14" is still in print, "Texturology" appears to have completely drifted out of the collective consciousness, if indeed it ever truly entered it. At the time of writing, only one seller on Amazon.uk is selling it - a 'like new' second hand copy for £28! Why did everyone forget about Beaumont? Perhaps because his time was so brief - "Texturology" was the glistening triumph, the perfect resolution to the series of EPs he'd been tantalizing us with beforehand. But it was also his creative peak, with subsequent releases yielding dramatically less stimuli. Yet "Texturology" caught the mood of '94 for me perfectly, with its Detroit-inspired symphonic aspirations, strong sense of harmonic structure, and, as the title suggests, gorgeous vistas of midi-controlled electronic texture, creating landscapes in the mind's eye, and stirring emotions in the heart. The colours were delicately mixed, but applied to the canvas with broad, life-affirming strokes. It was anything but fucking 'chill-out' music - I shudder at the thought of all those bland, mood-flattening slabs of audio driftwood released under the 'ambient' flag over the years. His music may sound a little dated today, as nearly all ten-year-old music tends to sound a little dated, but Hannant showed me a future that I like to think still has a future. The machines are there to help express feelings, not to hide behind.


Right, that's enough bullshit from me, but if you fancy having a listen, you need to paste this URL into your Podcast software...


I tried it in iTunes with Droid's podcast two weeks ago and it worked perfectly. But just in case you need a little help, here's Droid's 'Podcasts for Beginners' instruction manual...

Click on the Link to the podcast

Copy the link (PC users: right click and select "Copy Shortcut," Mac users: click and hold the mouse button and then select "Copy"), or alternatively, click the link as normal, and then copy the URL of the window that opens.

Paste the link into the subscription field of your podcasting software. This process may vary depending on your software.

If you use Itunes, things are slightly different:

When you click the Subscribe button next to a podcast in the iTunes Music Store, iTunes downloads the latest episode of the podcast. When you click the Get Episode button next to a podcast episode in the Music Store, iTunes downloads that episode.

You can also subscribe to a podcast if you know the podcast feed URL. Choose Advanced > "Subscribe to Podcast" and enter the URL. (see above)

You can see your podcasts and podcasts episodes by selecting Podcasts in the Source list.

If you dont have any podcasting software, and still want to get these mixes, your best bet is to mail the bloggers involved and ask nicely - though some may choose to make a straight mp3 link available at time of broadcast.

posted by droid

...and that's me finished for the summer...and possibly for a lot longer...maybe forever. We'll see. I'll still be floating around, adding the odd interjection at Dissensus, maybe even posting an occasional thought over at The Idiot's Guide, but basically I'm done with the blog t'ing for now. I need my space, not Myspace. I need substance, not news bulletins. I need to get it together, cos I decided I'm either gonna be a great music blogger, or I'm not gonna blog at all. And that means detaching myself a bit and doing some wandering around, mentally and physically. I'm prepared to get lonely again, if that's what it takes. And then...?

Take care.