A 2nd mix of ‘Magpie Music’ for Solid Steel


It’s been a while but here’s my first mix for 2015 and Solid Steel and it’s a second installment of ‘Magpie Music’, the name for mixes where I generally group the more psychedelic, fuzzed up, heavy beat productions I like. If it’s got a live band feel then it’ll probably be in one of these mixes for the moment but they can also include rawer, sample-led Hip Hop and Trip Hop cuts. My other series – Future Shock - is reserved for more electronic, sci-fi synth and soundtrack work although there’s always room for cross over.

I’ve decided to split music into there two camps for the foreseeable future as I find they focus the mixes more and make for a better overall listen rather than lumping the two together. There will of course be other themed mixes coming your way (I must get round to KKK9, The Lynch Party pt.2 and the Duck Rock audio documentary one day). Oh, and there’s the Alphabet Series too which comes and goes when it feels like it of which the mythical lost Sesame Street compilation is part of.

Anyway, this mix features some of my favourite songs from 2014, certainly from the second half of the year anyway. Plenty of The Heliocentrics, Jane Weaver, Temples and Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger whose albums I adored and still do. I’m finishing up the second Future Shock mix right now so hopefully that should be along sometime next month too.

Raiding the 20th Century (Words & Music Expansion) is 10

DJFood_Raiding20thcover_B&WSepA decade ago this week (I think it was a Monday or Tuesday) I debuted the expanded ‘Words & Music’ version of ‘Raiding The 20th Century’, this time lengthened to an hour and featuring specially recorded voice overs from Paul Morley. It was an attempt to chronicle a fragmented history of sampling from the advent of music concrete through to tape cut ups, sampling and finally the Bastard Pop/Mash Up phenomenon at the turn of the century.

Paul’s inclusion was through his book, ‘Words & Music’ that I’d read shortly after completing the first 40 minute version of ‘Raiding…’ the year before. The two mirrored each other so closely in places that the opportunity to revisit and revise was too good to pass up. Also the fact that I’d cribbed the title from a piece of text Paul had written nearly 20 years before didn’t go unnoticed, sometimes there are too many coincidences to ignore.

Since then it’s had a cease and desist take down notice from EMI and an attempt made at a video version but still, through the miracle of the internet, it endures. Here’s a collage that I started back at the beginning of 2006 and finally finished this morning, based on the Sgt. Peppers cover, of Paul and I alongside Alvin Lucier and Kylie, surrounded by some of the cast of thousands that make up the recording.

You can still listen to the mix here via UbuWeb but it’s out there in all sorts of corners of the internet.

Freehand Food compatibility issues

Recipe_LP_layout_screengrabI’ve been wrestling with old laptops and copies of Freehand all day to try and open the original artwork for the ‘A Recipe For Disaster’ album. I managed to extract the original files from the first ever disc I burned back in 1997 which houses the first work I did for Ninja Tune on it. To think that the first designs were made in 1994 but I didn’t think to archive them until 1997 says a lot about how small the file sizes were back then. The first LP I ever designed for Ninja was 9 Lazy 9‘s ‘Electric Lazyland’ and it all fitted on a 1.4MB floppy disc!

So, ‘Recipe…’ came out in the Autumn of 1995 and I was using Aldus Freehand 3.1 to lay out my designs and deal with type. At the time there were four main programs: the ubiquitous Photoshop, the fiddly Quark Express (good for laying out books and magazines), Illustrator and Freehand. The last two weren’t that dissimilar and were both good at drawing in vectors but you could do decent layouts with them as long as you didn’t want to use reams of text across multiple pages. For some reason I learned Freehand at college instead of Illustrator so that’s what I stuck to, along with Photoshop to manipulate the images, and most Ninja sleeves were done using this in the 90’s and 00’s.

FH9_10Along the way Freehand got bought by Macromedia and made some big jumps between versions which rewrote a lot of the internals apparently whilst still being backwards compatible with older versions. As with any applications, they’re at the mercy of the Operating Systems they’re made to run on and, through the years, Freehand had to make some big changes. It was finally bought by Adobe and then unceremoniously dumped with everything after Mavericks refusing to run the app. But even before this, getting older versions to open on newer Macs was a task and the files I recovered from 1995 just came up with ‘unsupported format’ messages when I tried to open them in Freehand 10, Illustrator and more.

Even on an old laptop running the OS 9 ‘Classic’ environment I had no joy until I remembered that Freehand 5.5 was a big upgrade and should be able to read the older FH3 files. But I couldn’t find a copy anywhere, not on archive discs or the web, the oldest version I had was Freehand 7. As a last resort I booted that up on the old laptop (all 24 MBs of app) and lo and behold, it worked! Here’s the lesson; don’t throw away those old applications that aren’t compatible with current operating systems, you never know when you might need them. What you see at the top is the low res preview of the DJ Food LP cover as it appeared this afternoon. I know it looks crappy but that’s all I need to work with and I’d rather have that than have to remake the whole thing from scratch.

Top 10 DJ Food Kraftwerk covers from Tsugi magazine

Back at the end of 2014 the French magazine Tsugi devoted an issue entirely to Kraftwerk. They gave me a 4 page feature where I was asked to choose my top 10 Kraftwerk cover versions and I promised to post an English language version of the text here in the new year. Seeing as the magazine should have been and gone from the shelves by now, here it is.
Tsugi Kraftwerk cover
The questions from Tsugi magazine:

When and how did you discover Kraftwerk ?

When I was 11 in early 1982 ‘The Model’ became a no.1 hit in the UK and I was suddenly aware of this ‘new’ electronic group from Germany in the charts alongside The Human League, Depeche Mode and Gary Numan. As a result EMI reissued most of their back catalogue and I bought Man Machine, Computer World and Trans Europe Express on cassette which I loved.

What do you like in Kraftwerk ?
The melodies first and foremost but also the electronic drums and percussion, I just find the songs very pure, simple and timeless. Plus they were singing about the future, robots, spaceships, computers etc. and that appealed to me rather than love songs at that age even though they wrote those too.

Do you have a special story related to yourself and Kraftwerk ?
I actually first heard them when I was about 5 years old on a tape my dad had recorded from the radio although I didn’t realise it was them until much later. The song was ‘Autobahn’ and I always remember liking it when it came on the tape but was a bit scared of the breakdown part with the motorway sounds as it reminded me of the Cybermen in Dr Who. When I bought the reissues of their albums later on I realised that I already knew ‘Autobahn’ although it was a very edited radio version, not the long LP one.

Why are you so passionate about Krafwerk’s covers ?
Being a fan of the band was difficult because they didn’t release anything new for so long so I began to seek out cover versions as a way to fill the gap they had left. It happens with many artists who don’t release new music regularly these days – Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin are just two examples. Fans show their love of an artist by covering their songs.

Do you think that sometimes covers are better than originals ones ?
Occasionally they can be, when someone takes the song into a new style or territory and these are the ones I primarily look for. I don’t see much point in recreating a techno version of a Kraftwerk song although people have done it very well. For me the most interesting ones are those that transpose the songs into a new style but still retain the essence or ones that take the song to an extreme that becomes comedic.

How many covers have you ?
Of Kraftwerk, probably about 300 but there are many more out there, for every cover I hear and like I probably hear another two techno / electro / house versions that I discard because they are just poor copies of the originals.
Tsugi KraftwerkFoodspread1
What are your 10 favorites cover records and for each, could you explain me why?

Gaudi & Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Dil Da Rog Muka Ja Mahi (KKK vol.7)
An Indian version of ‘The Model’ but only just, I’m not sure how I found this, possibly on a now discontinued blog of cover versions of various artists. I think the blogger listed 70 different versions of The Model alone.

Makoto Inoue – Europe Endless/Neon Lights (KKK vol. 1 & 3)
Beautiful Gamelan versions of these rarely covered songs, this cover really takes it to another genre entirely, transposing the melodies to sound like an ancient tribe is playing the songs. Nothing electronic about it at all, in fact a lot of my favourite covers are ones that take Kraftwerk’s songs into other genres of sound altogether.

Das Erste Wiener Gemueseorchester (First Viennese Vegetable Orchestra) – Radio Activity (KKK vol.2)
The whole thing is played on vegetables, I’m not kidding and it’s as mad as it sounds but you can heard the song in amongst all the weird sounds. One of the weirdest Kraftwerk covers I’ve ever heard.

Miladojka Youneed – Pocket Calculator (live) (KKK vol.2)
A rawkus almost country version with saxophone and harmony singing. you can almost see the stetsons on their heads. This sounds as if the group has learnt the song from reading the notes and lyrics in a book but never heard the original but they sound like they’re having such a great time playing it.

Satoru Wono feat. Meiwa Denki – Dentaku (KKK vol.2)
A Japanese version with very busy percussion and woodwind instruments, very odd but works perfectly. The vocals still sound robotic but there are spoken in Japanese making this even more alien, the playing is very mechanical and precise despite the organic sounds of the instruments.

Alenia – Home Computer (KKK vol.4)
Quite a straight electronic version but I brings something to the original I can’t put my finger on, maybe this is one of those covers that makes the song perfect for today’s clubs, it’s a bit heavier than the original but still quirky.

6Blocc – Digits (KKK vol.5)
A very detailed dubstep version that updates ‘Numbers’ for the dance floor, it cleverly re-edits the drums and bassline into a half time skank and just about keeps everything from falling down.

Case Managers – Autobahn (KKK vol.5)
Absolutely bonkers Australian version, sounds like it was recorded live at the BBQ after many beers had been consumed, very funny. The singers (all male) seem to get drunker and drunker as the song progresses, the absolute opposite of what Kraftwerk are on record.

Menschmaschine – Spacelab (KKK vol.8) Beautiful jazz version, just stunning, the whole build up of the intro had me from the first listen and I’d say this is probably one of my favourite Kraftwerk covers ever. In fact I recommend the whole Menschmaschine album of jazz cover versions of Kraftwerk’s music

Scala & Kolacny Brothers – Das Modell (KKK vol.8)
‘The Model’ is the most covered song in the band’s catalogue but this one is by a female choir from Belgium. Again another example of a version where there are no electronics and the song is easily carried by the melody and lyrics across to another genre.

You can find all my Kraftwerk Kover Kollection mixes so far here:

Tsugi KraftwerkFoodspread2

Dust & Grooves book 2nd edition + postcard set

D&G_2_postcardsThe 2nd edition of the Dust & Grooves book by Eilon Paz arrived just before Xmas along with a beautiful set of 48 postcards, both in sturdy slipcases. Of course I’m biased but the quality in these are beyond the usual and when I say ‘postcards’ it’s a bit of an understatement because these large format cards are only one step away from an actual print in terms of quality. I’d be splitting up a great set if I ever actually sent any out into the world – you can get a set here along with the 2nd edition of the book (with extra Questlove interview) here.
D&G_postcards_boxD&G_postcards_openD&G_postcards

Posted in Books, Design, DJ Food, Records. | No Comments |

New site up…

You may have noticed that things are now a bit different, yes the new site is here but I’m still ironing out bugs in it.

Can you please post any bugs or things that are broken in the comments below? At the moment I’m finding scrolling in Firefox very slow and stutter-y compared to Safari. I can’t even see the site in Chrome but I have an old version that I’ve not updated on my main machine, let me know if the site is showing up.

I know that there are broken images and links in some posts but there’s 5 years worth to go through so if you chance upon some it would be appreciated if you could flag them up here and I’ll get on it. In the meanwhile, have a look around, the Discog section is now fully up to date, as is the Design section, with easier to navigate galleries and the whole site is responsive so it’ll do that neat reshuffling thing when you turn your tablet from portrait to landscape :)

Many thanks to David Hazell at Curious People Projects for rebuilding the whole site after a responsive one was suggested by original site builder Dean Ricca-Smith at Chalk.

Posted in DJ Food. | 1 Comment |

From Russia With Love

As we all know, the life of the international DJ is exciting and glamorous, which is why I was back up at 5am after a 1am bedtime on Friday morning so that I could get to Heathrow for an 8.40am takeoff to Moscow. Add a 3 hour stopover in the airport and another two and half hour plane ride to Yekaterinburg and I arrive at 9.30pm their time (lost 5 hours). I’m met by two mysterious girls in oversize shiny black army-style peaked hats who ask me where my space suit is, what I think about aliens and would I like to do a parachute jump sometime? So far so good.

We’re whisked to the Lynch Club, a warren of cleverly decorated corridors and small rooms at the top of an old cinema complex that smells of sickly sweet popcorn as you ascend the stairs. It’s named after David Lynch as I soon realise when being led into a recreation of the famous dark red curtained room from the final episode of Twin Peaks – the only thing missing is a backwards talking midget. They also have a thing about rabbits taken from Lynch lore, remember the rabbits.

Another room – the library is blindingly white with padded walls and a bookshelf full of design books from around the globe. I’m met by a photographer, Ildar Ziganshin, who has a book open on the table with my face on one page… It turns out that when I was in Yekaterinburg before – six years ago – I had been photographed by him for a project called Photorobot and this was part of the result, a book of faces, split across the middle so that you could flip and combine two different halves to make a third like a children’s book. He had made only 50 copies but saved one for me, still wrapped in its original hessian packaging from six years ago. See here for some examples, it ain’t pretty :). We agreed to repeat the experiment later in his photo studio which is elsewhere in the building and I eat dinner in the white room whilst a beautiful but silent girl sits reading a book opposite and a couple lounge on the nearby sofa.

After a checking into the hotel I return and am led upstairs by the promoter, Stas, to find that the girls from before have transformed into aliens and are silently writhing around in the corridor, whispering in Russian to each other. They want to put me into a large bag, take me down to the dance floor as my guardians and then reveal me to the crowd before I start playing (I’m not making this up).

After initially laughing it off and then getting a little scared after realising they were serious (they had the bag and everything) I settled on a different plan – I would wear a plain face mask with my hood up and they would lead me through the (smoke-filled) room to the decks and do their alien thing in front of the crowd as I set up before revealing my face and letting rip behind the decks. It was surreal but fun and they had gone to so much effort with their costumes that I couldn’t not play ball.

The gig was great, tiny room, decks set up on a table on the floor in one corner, proper underground house party style and really great fun. One drunk guy who wouldn’t stop bumping into the decks with his crazed dancing was pinned to the floor at one point by another punter (thanks :)) and I had to school another who wanted to stand at the front and tell me how to play half the night. After I’d finished, a friendly face appeared out of the crowd, Mr Armtone aka Anton Kibeshev, from St. Petersburg who had come all that way to check it out and was traveling on with me to also play in Samara the next day.

After a quick drink in the library it was up to the photo studio to have some more snaps taken for Ildar’s next project. Finally one of the girls appeared and asked me to come upstairs as there was a final surprise waiting (yeah, I know what you’re thinking, glamorous international DJ life). As we made our way upstairs into the tungsten lit corridor above the dancefloor and rounded the corner I was confronted with a life size rabbit, standing silently against the wall, waving. It’s now 4.30am, I’m coming down from the high of the DJ set, the sleep deprivation is starting to kick in and I’m seeing a Donny Darko-like apparition in front of me. There was only one thing to do, hug the rabbit, grab a quick selfie and head for bed. I made it back to the hotel and checked my watch, 5am, I had to be up at 8.30 to grab some breakfast before leaving at 9 for the airport.

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Anton arrives for breakfast, feeling like death from the night before (too many cocktails) and we grab a ride with his friend whilst checking out his latest toy – a telescopic stick with a camera holder on the end which enables you to take photos from over a meter away. The iSelfie stick was used all weekend in various ways and became the source of much amusement, I predict it won’t be long before they’re everywhere. Anton is feeling really rough and sleeps on the flight with a sick bag at hand and when we arrive in Samara we have to wait an hour in the lounge as the pick up had the wrong time of arrival. The taxi drivers there are like vultures, hovering in packs as you come into the baggage area from the runway, muttering ‘taxi?’, ‘taxi?’ and working the crowd. Eventually Basil and Alex arrive to pick us up, apologising profusely, we are nearly dead from lack of sleep (and alcohol in Anton’s case). Alex is the designer of the excellent poster and flyer for the gig which he tells me has been made into some 2m x 2m posters too. This is one of the best flyers I think I’ve seen for one of my gigs, promoters take note, this is the standard to beat from now on. They offer to take us on a sight-seeing trip of the city but we have to decline as we will surely die of sleep deprivation if we don’t get to the hotel rooms soon.

It’s good to travel and visit new countries and cities but sometimes you don’t see much of them, half of Saturday in Samara was spent asleep in the daytime and we were a little more refreshed by 8pm by which time it was dark. Actually Anton wasn’t feeling refreshed at all, in fact he was really feeling bad, so bad we had to pull over on the side of the road to let him out on the way to the gig a few times. Then he complained that he couldn’t feel his hands and we realised we had to get him to a doctor before anything else. Close to 2 hours driving around to find someone who could help (the first hospital refused, apparently common in Russia) and we finally got him some medication and headed to find food. I had a nagging travel headache which had started in my shoulder, worked it’s way up one side of my neck and was making its way to my left eye but I tried to keep it in check. So, we’re not in great shape but the venue is as they have a huge screen for the AV show and we meet the promoters Vadimir and Alex (DJ Proton) who has bought some records to trade.

Anton was, by now, feeling better and played first, rocking it with a great mix of garage and UK Funky (joke Anton) :) – definitely taking his cues from classic DK sets and with top quality visuals too. By the time it’s my turn to play it’s 2am and my head feels like it’s about to take off my headache is so bad, but I build up to a thundering drum n bass set which the crowd lap up. By 4.15 I’m fit to die though, the headache so bad that I can hardly think (sometimes it goes but not this time) and I step down so that Alex can take over. I don’t think I’ve ever had as many people asking for photos and autographs after a gig than in Samara, it was relentless for about 10 minutes, a pretty great end to the night even if I did feel like death. Eventually Anton and I are in a taxi by 5.15am speeding towards our out-of-town hotel with some of the worst RnB rave pop I’ve ever heard playing on the radio.

Next morning at 11am we’re met at the hotel by Alex with a bag of records and a Soundburger portable turntable for an hour of listening and music trading. He gave me some excellent 45’s and an LP and I traded a couple of albums for a 45 by a band called Modo which has three killer funk / jazz /psych cuts on it.

At midday it’s the start of the long trek back home – 3.30pm flight to Moscow, change for London and arrive at 7.15pm (bear in mind all the hours the clock went back during this journey). Unfortunately I ended the trip by leaving my laptop on the plane but luckily realised before I was too far back into London on the tube and was reunited with it within the hour thanks to the excellent BA baggage staff.

Finally got home at 10.15pm Sunday night, phew, what a weekend, seems like half of it was a dream which is why I felt I had to write this all down. The final words from Boney M‘s disco classic ‘Rasputin’ echoed in my head more than a few times over the course of the weekend, “oooh, those Russians”. Except in my mind I always had it that he said, “ooh those ‘crazy’ Russians”, which would be very apt for what turned out to be a weird and wonderful weekend.

Posted in DJ Food, Event, Gigs. | 2 Comments |

DJ Food ‘Influences ’57-’92’ mix liner notes


If you’ve arrived here via the Dust & Grooves site feature on my collecting then the following is an in depth explanation of the mix made especially for that article. There will be some duplication with the D&G piece along the way, hopefully there will be plenty more to hold your attention though.

If you’ve not yet seen the feature and the beautiful photos by Eilon Paz then get yourself over there and check out the wonderful site when you have a spare couple of days.

How to make a mix of the favourites from your record collection? Impossible at best for as soon as you start combing the racks for ‘the essentials’ you quickly realise that half of it is worthy and you’re going to have a 10 hour set on your hands. For my Dust & Grooves mix I set myself a brief of picking tracks that had made a huge impact on me on first listen, shivers down the spine excitement, the shock of the new. Mind blowing sounds that somehow influenced me and fed into the mess of musical connections and contradictions that make me who I am today.

I also wanted to present them in the order in which they were released as far as possible thus making a chronological timeline as my listening habits progressed. This was a ridiculous idea and made the whole thing so much harder but sometimes interesting things happen from constraints and that probably says as much about me as any of the records here. Keeping this down to under an hour was also a tough call and sacrifices had to be made, not just losing artists but also in editing down songs – the essence of the essentials if you like. None of these records or songs are rare (with one exception…) and you will most likely be able to pick any of them up cheaply and easily. This isn’t some showboating ‘look at my rarest items that you’ll never have’ kind of mix, it’s about the songs and sounds that have signposted my early musical input and led to later collaborations both musical and artistic.

DJ Food – Influences 57-92 for Dust & Grooves by Dust & Grooves on Mixcloud

We start with an intro from Ken Nordine, presenting ‘Sound Paintings’ and he’ll be returning throughout as a guide, touring the record bins and opening doors to different parts of the psyche. He has a connection to several people in the selection, Mixmaster Morris (who features later under his Irresistible Force guise) first turned me on to him when we first met and I later went on to work with Ken in 2000 on a version of his ‘The Ageing Young Rebel’. When Eilon from Dust & Grooves came to my studio and I started pulling records he immediately recognised the Word Jazz LPs as Dom Servini had shown him the same when he’d visited his home earlier in the trip. So, even though I didn’t hear Ken until 1993, we start with him for Eilon and already the chronological timeline idea is knackered although it is technically the oldest record in the selection, having been released in 1957.

OK, to the real beginning: Kraftwerk‘s ‘Autobahn’, I probably heard songs before this but I don’t remember a piece of music affecting me in the same way this did. Heard from a tape my dad made of the single in the mid 70’s (I would have been about 5) and it stuck with me because it scared me and signals a love of electronic music. Even more so because the band would go on to become so influential not just to me but for so many.

It’s well known that the band took inspiration from The Beach Boys for the ‘fun, fun, fun on the autobahn’ refrain so I paired the two up with a slice of my favourite Beach Boys song (and there are many), ‘Surf’s Up’. I’m not ashamed to admit that this track has reduced me to tears on a few occasions and I was obsessed with the whole ‘Smile’ saga from whence it sprung as the nineties came to a close. Here I have each band dueting, trading lines in the tradition of all the best mixes, two elements that shouldn’t work together but in doing so create a third. Gary Numan was another electronic pop musician who instantly appealed when ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ climbed to the no.1 spot in the charts in 1979 and I followed his career for a good few years afterwards.

The Queen soundtrack to the 1980 remake of Flash Gordon was the first cassette album I ever bought (I didn’t actually have a record player until I was 13) and I played the shit out of that little tape. In the tradition of listening to one collection again and again I got to appreciate the album as a whole rather than cherry pick my favourites. It was paced the same as the film and included dialogue to push the story along and spoken word has always been a favourite component of ‘music’ for me. The same thing propels the intro to ‘Blush Response’ from the score to Blade Runner, the tense meeting of Deckard, Rachel and Tyrell before the release of Vangelis‘ icy, fluctuating keyboard work. Both of these soundtracks signpost an early love of sci-fi film with synthesiser-led scores (the orchestral bombast of Star Wars never really did it for me).

The Human League, although starting out around the same time as Numan in the post punk landscape were beaten to the punch chart-wise by Gary and the cash-in re-release of their first single, ‘Being Boiled’, post-‘Don’t You Want Me’ success was the track that resonated most. That eerie build up with Phil Oakey‘s, ‘OK, ready, let’s do it’ casually left in before Martin Ware‘s gothic Korg 700 bass line comes in. Listen to the voice of Buddha indeed, so great we included it near the start of mine and DK‘s ‘Now, Listen Again’ Solid Steel mix CD.

Eno & Byrne‘s world music collage collaboration has never been equaled to my mind and although I didn’t hear it until the early 90’s it’s tucked in here as it was released in 1981 and dovetails nicely with another world music smash and grab by the white man.

Malcolm McLaren‘s ‘Duck Rock’ album had all sorts of ramifications in my musical landscape, not least because it bought a bastardised version of Hip Hop to Europe with graffiti, scratching, rapping and breaking alongside the Westwood fashion and Keith Haring artwork.

I vividly remember first hearing ‘Buffalo Gals’ on the top 40 countdown and almost being disgusted by the mess of it. As a song structure it just didn’t make any sense at all, seemingly random elements all thrown together periodically stopping to be primitively scratched. My 13 year old brain couldn’t comprehend it at all, I still don’t think it’s a great song but the album it comes from is a giant flagpole for things to come, mainly for the production team of Trevor Horn and the early incarnation of the Art of Noise.
Which brings us to a little Zang Tuum Tumb megamix section, full of synths and samplers, sex and slaves, drum machines and ‘Dr Mabuse’. Art of Noise’s ‘Beatbox’ was the first release from the label in late ’83, closely followed by Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s ‘Relax’ (which only gets a tiny look in here unfortunately). Propaganda‘s debut, ‘Dr. Mabuse’ was the third release and appears in extended form before the title track of Frankie’s debut album gets a truncated turn.

Rounded off by a little gem of an unreleased mix of Grace Jones‘Slave To The Rhythm’ by Bruce Forest of Better Days fame. This is where I show off my digging credentials for a minute, this percussion-less mix for voice and orchestra was done on spec in the early 90’s by Bruce and remains unreleased as yet (although I’m trying). For the full story know that this is an edit of the full version and another exists that reinstates a lot more of the EU GoGo percussion. Both were done from master tapes at the Sarm West studios in London and hopefully one day they will see a proper release.

We’re now in the mid 80’s – a turning point for pop music and also for me as I dove headlong into Hip Hop with a passion for the rest of the decade. Without a pause we jump from ‘the Rhythm’ to ‘the Rebel’ (see what I did there?) and Public Enemy‘s classic squealing sax ‘n’ funky drummer smash. I remember the hairs on my neck standing on end when I first heard that transformer scratch after Chuck D roared, “Terminator X!” (even though it was probably Johnny ‘Juice’ Rosado who made the cuts).

I originally had four PE tracks in the mix, starting with ‘Son of Public Enemy’, the B side of their debut under that name and the first I heard played on the radio. The JB’s ‘Blow Your Head’ moog solo was so alien in Hip Hop and with the formless Flavor Flav freestyle over the top it just sounded even more extraterrestrial. This was excised from the mix along with the Terminator X Getaway Dub of ‘Your Gonna Get Yours’ from the A side of ‘Rebel…’s first release but I did also include ‘Countdown To Armageddon’. The opener from ‘Fear Of A Black Planet’ is in there because I was actually at the gig it was recorded from at the Hammersmith Odeon in London and even briefly met Chuck and Flav outside beforehand. Everyone has a few ‘I was there’ gigs and this is one of mine.

Around the same time a couple of self-appointed dance floor hooligans were showing the yanks that they could play the same game and after the Double Dee & Steinski homage of ‘Say Kids What Time Is It?’ Coldcut kicked the doors in with ‘Beats n Pieces’. One of the heaviest sample-led dance floor demolishers to emerge from the UK up until Depth Charge waded into the fray (sadly missing from the line up here) and, unbeknownst to me at the time, set to play a huge part in my musical journey (into sound) during the next decade.

Rewinding a couple of years to 1985 when I had a revelation the first time I tuned into Mike Allen’s Capital Radio weekend Hip Hop show and amongst the unaffordable US imports I would come to covet was Word of Mouth‘s ‘King Kut’. Featuring DJ Cheese who would go on to win the DMC Championship a year later on the cuts, it was everything I wanted to hear at 15 – beats, rhymes and scratches. Cheese’s cuts were hugely influential for me but he never got a chance to shine much after his DMC win although he guested on many tracks, he received little or no credit and fell foul of bad management.

The Beastie Boys‘Shake Your Rump’ needs no introduction or explanation except to say that most tracks in this mix are just one extract from albums that are cornerstones of my collection and musical education. Several have had to be left out such as De La Soul, Tackhead, Double Dee & Steinski and Foetus because of time constraints and musical shoe-horning for the sake of it isn’t my style. The The had to be in the mix though and I’ve not picked an obvious track for this one, more something that suited the mood and tempo of this particular part of the timeline. ‘Twilight of a Champion’ is from side 2 of ‘Infected’ but I could have picked anything from that or Matt Johnson‘s ‘Soul Mining’ debut. Interestingly the orchestral arrangements on this track were by ZTT artist at the time Andrew Poppy and Art of Noise member Gary Langan mixed a couple of the tracks on the LP.

From here we jump back into Hip Hop with more UK rap from Hijack, giving Public Enemy a run for their money and influencing DJs like Q-Bert in the process with the amazing cuts from DJs Undercover and Supreme. This group were so good they were one of the first UK acts to land a US record label deal, with Ice T‘s short-lived Rhyme Syndicate, whilst they were nurtured by Simon Harris in Britain on his Music of Life label. Note how only a year on from Coldcut‘s game-changing remix of ‘Paid in Full’ they reference it at the start of the track and then rip the needle off the record. So many people started copying the ‘This Is A Journey’ spoken word back then that it got old real fast. Another Brit copping an ear to what the Americans were doing before he moved to the West Coast was Jack Dangers and Meat Beat Manifesto, an early adopter of sampling after starting with more industrial roots. ‘I Got The Fear Pt.1′ from the amazing ‘Storm The Studio’ LP is cut from the same cloth as ‘Hold No Hostage’ being that they both sample from the same source except Hijack beat MBM by a year.

There’s a quick Jungle Brothers a cappella from their criminally undervalued ‘Done By the Forces of Nature’ LP before we hit Acid House territory with Stakker‘s ‘Humanoid’. This is the track were I finally ‘got’ what Acid was about after hearing various bits and pieces and not being too impressed (I was heavily into Hip Hop’s golden age at the time). Also the fact that Brian Dougans – later to become one half of the Future Sound of London – was responsible for this tells you something and I had their ‘Expander’ lined up to go into the mix later but couldn’t make it work.
William Orbit‘s stunning Spatial Expansion remix of S’Xpress‘Hey Music Lover’ follows, search out the full length version as it’s one of the best mixes he’s ever done and a pinnacle of the UK dance music scene of the late ’80s. The Orb had to feature and, were I keeping to the progressive timeline, I would have included ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ or ‘A Huge Evergrowing Brain…’ at this point. Instead I’ve jumped forward a year to ‘Close Encounters’ from their second album as it suits the wind down into the ambience that follows better.

By 1990 I had moved to London to study graphic design and left most Hip Hop behind for electronic ‘dance’ music, the copycat gangsta-isms of Rap beginning to bore me. Madchester and baggy were in full swing but I was more interested in ‘intelligent techno’ as it became known and the emerging ambient scene. The Orb, were central to this along with the loosely affiliated KLF who soon made the jump into the pop charts. The latter’s ‘Chill Out’ LP knocked me out as I’d never heard anything like it spread over a whole album before. It’s pretty difficult to choose a single track from so I’ve just included some moments that stuck in my mind – “rock radio, into the 90’s and beyond” seeming apt at this point.

Another huge champion of ambient music both then and now is Mixmaster Morris aka The Irresistible Force who I met at some point around 1992 and was a huge influence on my musical education for a few years. He played so many artists who are now considered the foundations of the genre to me for the first time. He also gave advice and info including a contact for Matt Black of Coldcut which set me off on the path I would follow for the next two decades. I have much to thank him for and include a section of ‘Mountain High (Live)’ from his unfairly overlooked debut ‘Flying High’ here in tribute. Find a copy, it’s beautiful and this track alone is 20 minutes long.

Since I’d moved to the capital I had access to the newly launched KISS FM station with Colin Favor and Colin Dale‘s techno shows on a Monday and Tuesday night which I religiously tuned in to. This was where I first heard Aphex Twin‘s ‘Digeridoo’ which was like being run over by a steamroller at the time as it was a good 10 bpm faster than everything else. That started a love of his music which continues to this day and nearly rounds out the mix as I’ve chosen to stop at 1992 – a particular turning point in my life as well (a story for another time).

For the final track (the encore if you like) I’ve chosen a song from an artist I’ve held in high esteem for decades and one which most would have assumed should have kicked off the mix rather than ended it. Adam & The Antz’ ‘Zerox’ was the first record I ever bought – four years after it was released it has to be said – and the band were the first I would hold up as being crazy about. From the moment I heard their first chart entry, ‘Dog Eat Dog’, on the radio I was in love with this group as an impressionable 10 year old and as soon as I got a turntable their back catalogue was the first one I collected. For me their early post punk period that this hails from stands the test of time the best and I finally saw Adam live only last year. Ending where I began seemed to be the best option for a 140 bpm punk single rather than try to sandwich it between Kraftwerk and Queen, it’s rightly home on the timeline.

So, that’s a little trip back in time through the tracks that impacted upon my impressionable mind for the first 20 years or so of my life, maybe one day I’ll do an ‘Influences Pt.2′, kick off from 1992 and see what surfaces. It’s funny reading all this and the D&G article back (originally done about 18 months ago) – this is where I’ve been and although I still hold many of these records dear there’s still a long way to go until we arrive at where my head’s at today.
The new edition of the Dust & Grooves book is about to ship out as of writing – you can buy it here.

Russian repost


Just wanted to repost this flyer for the gig on Saturday in Samara as I love it so much. This one is slightly more compact and text-heavy.

The deadline is nearly up for the Dust & Grooves ‘guess my mix content’ comp and the full feature & accompanying mix should drop on the site sometime tomorrow. Unfortunately I’ll be traveling virtually all Friday for the gig in Yekaterinburg so I probably won’t get to post the links to it here (in an extensive liner note post) until much later.

Dust & Grooves DJ Food mix competition

I’m doing a mix for the Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting website to accompany a big profile on my record collection that they’re going to run soon. The mix is based around records that aren’t necessarily rare but that made a big impression on me when I first heard them and influenced my career etc.
I’ve made the selection, I just have to mix it – what I want to know is how well you think you know my tastes?
Which artists will feature? That might be pretty easy for some of you…
Which tracks from those artists might feature though? Bit trickier.
These will be artists and songs that blew my mind on first hearing and changed the way I thought about music.

Whoever guesses the most correct artists / tracks featured gets a mystery bag of records, comics and other bits and pieces I want to influence you with.
Put your answers in the comments below and I’ll pick the person with the most correct guesses after Nov 21st when the piece will be published. You can guess as many times as you want. You might have an unfair advantage if you know me personally but there will be no favouritism :)

Also, if you’re waiting on the 2nd edition of the Dust & Grooves book it’s almost here and they have a nice little boxed set of 48 postcards available to pre-order (which I’m also featured in, see if you can spot the photo in the video). They’d probably make excellent Xmas cards.

Red Snapper ‘Mambety’ (DJ Food remix)

I did a remix for Red Snapper earlier this year which is just seeing the light of day now. Following on from their ‘Hyena’ album it’s the title track of their ‘Mambety EP’ and sits alongside a remix by Moist and album track ‘Dock Running’.

Out today on LO RECORDINGS you can get it here. Whilst you’re there check out the new Grasscut single too, a precursor to their next album that Lo are releasing next year. I saw them live a few weeks back and they were excellent.

‘Future Shock’ set at the Watershed, Bristol

Another perfect DJ setting, playing Afro Futurist beats and electronics at the Watershed before a screening of Sun Ra‘s ‘Space Is The Place’ film last week. Sitting down, accompanied by visuals manned by DJ Cheeba and Tom from Lumen which had been also been mapped across the roof above. No dancing, just punters sitting, drinking and taking it all in and a great applause at the end. Thanks to everyone who came down – more gigs like this please. (Photos by Gareth O’Neill, DJ Cheeba, Ross Chester and Maddy Probst)

…and here’s a great poster for the Afro Futurist season that starts in November that I shot at the BFI in London the more before the gig.

Espacio, Madrid, Spain

A couple of weekends ago DK and I travelled to Madrid and played what might be the perfect template for all DJ sets in the future. Four deck AV set at 8.15-9.45pm to a receptive crowd on the top floor of the amazing Espacio Arts Centre. Pack up by 10pm, drop bags at hotel and go to a bar for beer and tapas, then go to a great seafood restaurant and be in bed by 1am. Get a good nights sleep and make it to breakfast at a normal hour. They don’t often happen like that…

Terminal Radio 22 stream and download


Here’s the 3hr all-star electronica mix I contributed to as part of Terminal Radio 22 – curated by Nmesh – and featuring FSOLDigital (aka Yage / Brian Dougans with an “Electric Brainstorm 10: Micro Edition”), Mixmaster Morris, Neotropic, Youth, Akkya, LMS and Surface 10. There’s a long 5 minute intro before the mixes start and my section starts around the 1:12:45 mark