Which School Are you From? – The Intricacies Of Music New And Old And It’s Affect On Youth Culture:

I was born in April of 1973.  This makes me (at the current time of writing) forty one years of age.

For as long as I can remember, electronic music with repetitive beats has dominated my life, I grew up on a diet of force fed electronic music, it completely dominated the charts; Yazoo, Kraftwerk, Yello, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, The Human League.  Even the latest blockbuster films had synth heavy soundtracks, for example John Carpenter’s Escape From New York And Alan Parker’s Midnight Express, I could literally go on forever.

This broad introduction of the electronic synthesiser into modern day media caused a seismic change in youth culture and the way the way that young people interacted with each other.

There have been many changes in youth culture, all wide and varied and all inextricably linked to both music and fashion.  The first real example we see of it was in the 1940’s beginning most notably with Rock and Roll, leading onto the Teddy Boys of the 50’s, the Mods and Rockers of The 60’s, The Skin/Suedeheads and Punks of the 70’s and then the Acid House explosion of the 80’s.

Since then (in my humble opinion) there has been a drought with no really significant changes in youth culture, with Simon Cowell et al totally dominating the charts with their pre-fabricated churned out pop dirge, purely designed to do nothing but make the major record labels obscenely rich stockpiling gargantuan piles of cash.

Then the question occurs to me; where did all the creativity go?

For me an epiphany moment was in the late eighties hearing “Voodoo Ray” by A Guy Called Gerald. 

This music was unlike anything I had heard before, totally fresh and completely new, I still to this day count my lucky stars to be involved in such a burgeoning scene so early in its conception.  At fifteen years of age I attended various warehouse parties in and around the capital.  Acid House Music was everywhere and I was firmly bitten by the bug.  This was my time, my own youth culture moment.  My time to jump on something new and make it my own.

So here I find myself at the grand old age of 41 and still just as obsessed (if not more) with this incredible music.  But for me it is all about pushing forward, listening to all the incredible new talent that is rising through the ranks.  I believe there is more really, really great music around today than ever before.

So now we arrive in 2014.  What has happened to youth culture in the UK today?  For the last fews years we have seen young people “shuffling” at parties/raves/festivals. 

This dance movement has received some really bad press and received extreme ridicule, even accused of racism in some cases, however, I believe it is the single most exciting thing to happen in UK youth culture since Acid House and I applaud and encourage it’s arrival in equal amounts.  Its really, really great and refreshing to see something new and genuine being born out of the current UK House Music scene, but is it really new?

I read an amazing article written by a DJ so deeply entrenched in the UK electronic music scene that he literally has become an integral working part; Mr Greg Wilson.  Last summer he pointed out on his blog that foot shuffling has indeed been around a lot longer than most people think.  Below is a youtube video of a recording made in the Moss Side Community Centre in Manchester on September 27th 1987, so well before messers. Oakenfold, Holloway, Rampling and Walker returned from that genre spawning trip to The White Island

Here we see young black teens enjoying some very early house and breaking out some very similar moves to today’s shufflers.  Food for thought.

There is always and will always be a glut of “back to 88” or old school nights.  I personally have nothing against these events and agree that we should never ignore the past, however, I don’t think its healthy to live in it. 

Absorb the past and use it as inspiration for creating something new, push the boundaries of this wonderful sound.  It would be truly extraordinary and inspiring to see the youth of today create a new exciting culture to give Cowell and his cronies a run for their money and bring creativity back to the masses.

You can read more on Greg Wilson’s blog:

http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/07/cutting-shapes-how-house-music-really-hit-the-uk/

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Review – Gardens Of God – Glük – Boso – Release Date Sunday 24th August 2014

This is just the third EP to be released on the burgeoning Boso imprint masterminded by none other than Ten Walls (Mario Basanov).  Considering Basanov’s track record I was expecting nothing but pure class and I really wasn’t disappointed.

This EP features a rising Lithuanian star; Minidaugas Lapinskis and his latest project; Gardens Of God. 

At first listen the production seemed so professional and tight that it could have quite easily been mistaken as an Innervisions release.  The mood of the EP is heads down dark and moody, but with a definite subtle sadness to the melodies.  However don’t let this make you think it’s a melancholy offering, far from.  I can see dance floors reacting very well indeed when any one of the three tracks is dropped.

As of so much of the good music of late this EP manages to sound fresh and new which I think is a very difficult thing to achieve these days.  It reminds me of certain productions from Mano Le Tough, Tale Of Us and Mario Basanov himself.  I think with Lapinskis we are seeing a real talent in his ascendency.  Cant wait to hear more from this man.

9/10

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Review – La Escollera Session One – Selections by Gavin Kendrick and Phil Cooper

Picture the scene; a small terraced restaurant perched directly on a rocky outcropping of coastline, with crystal clear azure waters and hidden caves, bordered by deep, thick, luxuriant pine forest.

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This is Es Cavallet on the south coast of Ibiza, a neighbouring beach to Salinas and a hidden Ibizencan treasure.  Here we find one of Ibiza’s best kept secrets, a restaurant; La Escollera.

La Escorella is a family owned restaurant with over twenty years in the business, both Gavin Kendrick and Phil Cooper have been invited to grace the decks there for the last few years, giving them both the musical freedom to dig deep within their extensive, eclectic vinyl collections to bring forth the most obscure of hidden gems.  This type of musical freedom can only really be explored in a place like La Escollera, and here we have the compilation album to prove it.

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From the outset the vibe is chilled kicking off proceedings with BJ Smith (AKA Smith & Mudd) Runnin, we now know where this comp is heading.  I’m glad to say that we are treated to one of the most forward thinking Ibiza “chill out” albums in a very long time.  The long running Jockey Club Salinas Sessions have been very hit and miss over the last few years with only the odd incarnation hitting the spot.  Most of the other offerings always fall far from the mark.

However here we are presented with a truly adverse interpretation of the Balearic Beat.  As is all that should be with Balearic “anything goes” and this really is true with this outstanding compilation.  Using the extensive musical knowledge of both Kendrick and Cooper we are really transported directly to La Escollera and their truly unique sunset sessions.  Usually intimate and enjoyed by the few, now the music can now be enjoyed by all, with musical styles ranging from Reggae to Hip Hop to Soul to House.

This compilation quite literally knocks spots off the competition, I haven’t enjoyed an Ibiza compilation album so much as the original Cafè Del Mar mixed by Josè Padilla back in 1994, this really is a future classic in the making.

10/10

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Review – BJ Smith – ‘Dedications to the Greats part 2’ – Hey Ya! and Prototype

It has to be said I originally approached these tracks with some trepidation, I’m not a huge Outkast fan and a bit stuck in my ways when it comes to hip hop so I couldn’t quite see how these reworks could make the tracks any better.  I’m glad to say I was wrong, very wrong.

Hey Ya!  Pricked up my ears immediately with a beautiful flamenco acoustic guitar, light floaty lyrics and a low slung groove, a whole world of difference from the original.  This track rolls on beautifully with large purely instrumental sections, reverb guitars and sun soaked vibes abound.

Prototype begins with a soaring synth and strings which immediately lifts the soul, peppered horn stabs bring a very pleasant welcome surprise, this rework definitely has a very 70’s soul feel to it, a definite change for the better.

I think these are both exactly the type of tracks that would cause a raising of the eyebrows in surprise when thrown into a sunset set, followed by a very large grin of recognition, absolutely top drawer.

9/10

RA Sessions: Brandt Brauer Frick

Words lovingly reproduced from those lovely people over at http://www.residentadvisor.net

Rave meets the concert hall on our latest live music film.

Whether as a three-piece or with a full ensemble, Brandt Brauer Frick bring a classical sensibility to club music. Daniel Brandt, Jan Brauer and Paul Frick are three musicians from Berlin who got together in 2008 and struck upon the idea of applying acoustic instrumentation to techno. Five years on, the video for “Bop” is still the most powerful (and amusing) example of this approach—the trio appear wearing suits and blank expressions as they build the composition, performing the machine-generated thump of a dance track by hand. They’ve written three albums—You Make Me RealMr. MachineMiami—in this style, one of which was released as The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble. This version of the group, which features an additional seven musicians, is a bold proposition in the live arena. The ensemble blurs the line between the concert and the club, teasing seated audiences into acting like ravers.For their RA Session, Brandt Brauer Frick performed a tense rendition of “Bommel,” a track that lays bare the group’s ties to techno while sounding like no one else out there.

Interview – Simon Rigg, co-founder, Phonica Records

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Deep in the heart of soho lies undoubtedly one of the most integral parts of the current UK underground electronic music scene, it’s influence undeniable; Phonica records, some amazing artists of worth when in town have clamoured to play an in store set, artists with a vast range of musical styles ranging from Motor City Drum Ensemble to Mount Kimbie, to Vakula, to Richie Hawtin to Four Tet (to name but a few). 

 Now about to begin its tenth year of trading a supposedly defunct music medium in an extreme economic climate where huge high street chains like HMV are going under on a daily basis, what makes this tiny bastion of independence tick?

I had a chat with co-founder Simon Rigg to ask him about all things Phonica;

Where did it all begin? When were your ears first alerted to electronic music and how did it affect you?

For me, I can actually pinpoint the time and place. In a local youth club in a Shropshire village, the older guys were playing a cassette of The House Sound of Chicago Vol 1, and I had to find out what out was so I could buy it!

http://www.discogs.com/Various-The-House-Sound-Of-Chicago/release/89727

All the classics were on there from Marshall Jefferson to ‘Jack Your Body’ , Chip E’s Like This to Fingers Inc ‘Mystery of Love’…and from then on in, my love of house music started!

So how did the shop come into being?

I was running another record store in 2001 on Berwick St, called Koobla and the guys who run Vinyl Factory approached me to open a record store to sit alongside FACT Magazine and  their pressing plant. It was a lucky break, they were very dedicated to vinyl and opening a shop and we had a blank slate to design the shop how we wanted etc. With Tom Relleen (now in The Oscillation) and Heidi (Radio1  DJ) , we left Koobla to open the new shop wondering if any of our customers would come with us.

The Vinyl Factory? What is it and what links does it have to the shop?

Vinyl Factory is a group of companies that comprise of FACT Magazine, VF Editions (limited vinyl box sets etc) and VF Manufacturing (the old EMI pressing plant in Hayes) – the whole company is dedicated to music and vinyl, especially.

The Phonica collection of labels? With over 16 successful releases under their belts what are the Plans for the future of these labels?

To be honest, we probably don’t have so many grand plans as some other stand-alone labels . We started the label in order to release great tracks from the staff (Hector & Anthea both had early releases)  and friends and family. We often come across good tracks or up and coming producers and if we like it, we will put it out.  We have forthcoming tracks from Sad City, Lord of The Isles, Iori and Northlake who have all releases with us before.

Ex staff? You have some now very famous faces that used to work behind the counter, do you think that this fact attracts young upcoming artists to an internship in the shop?

Will Saul, Pete Herbert  were there in the early days…James Priestley, Geddes and of course Hector, Anthea and Heidi who were such an integral part of the shop. I wouldn’t say that attracts people to do internships – its more of an interesting thing to do alongside doing / running a label / producing etc which a lot of people are pursuing as their main source of income.

You are supplying some if not all of London’s best DJ’s/Producers with new vinyl, not to mention those visiting the UK therefore to a certain extent shaping the music that we listen to on the dance floor at the weekend, who is the main buyer for Phonica and how hard a job is it to make those selections?

I’m the main buyer at Phonica with help from Vangelis. I choose which records to get in and in what quantities – however, this is also shaped by what people buy, what sells well in the shop, what the other staff like and tell me about, what other customers tell me about. If people ask for records we don’t stock, I will go and check it to see if we should be stocking it. These days, with such limited runs, you have to take a chance on things -if you only order a few copies of a killer record, chances are there won’t be any left by the time you re-order!

How do you stay on top of your game/ahead of your competitors?

I think all the shops that are left now, especially in London, all have their own niche and speciality and we are all good at what we do. Customers are either very loyal to a particular shop or they shop around and see what each shop has to offer. On the internet, its harder competition but we try and stock the best records we can, have a good range of different genres and provide a good service.

There has been much talk of late of a vinyl revival, have you noticed an increase in sales in the last few years?

Yes, its true, there has been a slight increase in sales over the past year or two – but not in the way that has been publicised.  This talk of a vinyl revival is using figures from US high street stores and for mainstream albums only – for independents and for dance music, vinyl sales have been steadily decreasing for 15 years – however, they do seem to be remaining solid in a genre that should’ve been killed off when the cassette was introduced.  But the pressing speak for themselves, 10 years ago, a ‘limited’ run was 2000 copies! Now its 300!

Record Store Day seems to have been a great success for independent record stores across the world, do you think it has helped the success of Phonica?

I think RSD has been a great way to highlight independent record stores across the world and show a different way of buying and enjoying music rather than sitting at home trawling through loads of mediocrity on a mp3 website!

Do you still think it’s possible for artists to make money from record sales or do you now think it’s more of a promotional platform for live shows/gigs?

Well, you can make a small amount of money from record sales – yes, but not enough to support you in life. Vinyl sales now are more of a promotional platform so you can demand higher DJ fees or live shows.

What’s your take on soundcloud and how do you think it is changing the landscape of electronic music worldwide?

Soundcloud is very useful, although I don’t use it too often myself – just mainly as a way of listening to records forthcoming on vinyl…i don’t think its the most functional software…..

I still think people would buy a vinyl copy if its something they want!

Check out www.phonicarecords.com or pop in store to pick up some select killer vinyl

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