30 years of Solid Steel

Solid Steel 30Solid SteelColdcut’s weekly 2 hour mix show – is 30 years old – wow, now I feel old too. To celebrate they’ve commissioned a clutch of special mixes which will air throughout the first week of December. Juan Atkins (the show’s first guest back in ’88), The Bug, Bernd Friedman, Gerd Janson, HAAi and Mark Pritchard have all recorded mixes as well as Coldcut, DK (with an epic 4 hr effort) and myself.

What do you do when you’re faced with a blank canvas to commemorate a 30 year anniversary? I’ve been with the show for 25 of those years and so much music has flowed through it in that time it’s impossible to crystalize that into one set. Instead I thought I’d attempt something I’d not done before and put together a collection of classic minimalist songs by the masters – Kraftwerk, Eno, Reich, Riley, Can etc. – and weave other elements in and out of the mix. In some respects I succeeded but I started out with seven hours of music! A lot had to go as flow and tuning just didn’t work and I also didn’t want too much 4/4 kick drum to pin things down, rather just the throb of forward motion.

Mixing this stuff takes time and patience, the tracks are long, you can lose your place in the rhythm very easily and most of them are played live so not locked into any steady metronome or midi clock. Getting the mix tight was a constant headache. I’ve used some tracks more like samples to add textures to others rather than to have their own spotlight and the intention was to always have at least two things creating a third, which is the basis of all the best mixes.

When compiling sets for the Solid Steel mix CD series, then Ninja A&R for the series, Dean Smith, used to talk about ‘moments’. Each mix should have at least two or three points that would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up or blend the sound to such a point that you got a rush. It’s not enough to just blend two ends of a track together, we’re sculpting here, making connections that wouldn’t normally sit together and, in the best instances, mean that you can never hear one of those tracks on it’s own again without hearing the other playing in your head. There are subtleties at play in recorded mixes that can never be experienced in clubs as the volume and crowd noise often pushes out the details.

Two thirds the way through the set I also did something I’ve never done before too – inserted another guest mix. Chatting to Brian Dougans from Future Sound Of London, he’d confessed to being a Solid Steel fan, regularly taping shows throughout the 90s and being inspired by the weekly mixdowns. When I told him it was the 30th anniversary he offered an exclusive mix of new Humanoid tracks, an alias he’s just reactivated as it’s three decades since he first had a hit under the moniker with ‘Stakker Humanoid’. It seems fitting to have a contribution from an artist whose career started at the same time as the show, FSOL’s own radio shows in the 90s similarly inspired me and this is a nod to their idea of inserting guest mixes into their early Kiss FM shows. The six acid tracks are a stark contrast to my own selection but rather than surround them with similar material I’ve let them occupy their own space within the set, you might have to adjust your mood though. A massive thanks to Brian for this mix and all the music he and Gaz have bought us over the years.

After 25 years as part of the Solid Steel team and after hundreds of hours of mixes, it’s great to still be inspired to push myself and be among such esteemed company as the show morphs once again into a new era. Solid Steel moves to a new format next year, already with some killer guests lined up, and there are around 8 years worth of mixes in the archive online along with an extensive database of dates and guests from the past 30 years.

DJ Food Solid Steel 30th mix featuring Humanoid

Linda Perhacs – Parallelograms (Kapp Records)
Brian Eno & David Byrne – The Carrier (Virgin)
Pink Floyd – On The Run (Harvest)
Kraftwerk – Autobahn (Vertigo)
Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois – Ascent (An Ending) (Virgin)
The Beach Boys – Our Prayer (Brother/Reprise)
Vapour Space – Gravitational Arch of 10 (Internal)
David Bowie – Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix) (Columbia)
Herbie Hancock – Rain Dance (Columbia)
Can – Messer, Scissors, Fork & Light (Spoon )
Steve Hillage – Rainbow Dome Musick (Virgin)
Cavern of Anti-Matter – Tardis Cymbals (Duophonic HF Discs)
Pat Metheny – Electric Counterpoint fast (Nonesuch)
Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians (ECM)
10cc – Wet Rubber Soup (Polydor)
Steve Hillage – Rainbow Dome Musick (Virgin)
David Sylvian – Answered Prayers (Virgin)
Manuel Gottsching – E2:E4 (MG-Art)
The KLF – Deep Shit (The Cult of Mu 7″ mix) (CDR)
Jon Brooks – A Mechanical Eye (Ghost Box)

Humanoid In Session 2-4th Nov 2018 – guest mix
– 1 Acid Ho
– 2 Spore
– 3 Point Cloud
– 4 Co-Pilot
– 5 Koma Flow (808 State)
– 6 Far-Point
– Recorded live at 9L West, Engineered by Yage for EbV. Fsoldigital Recordings.

Terry Riley vs Meat Beat Manifesto – In C (Version 4.2) (Electronic Sound)
Boards of Canada – Telepath (Warp)
Psychic Warriors of Gaia – Obsidian (Organically Decomposed) (KK Records)
This Mortal Coil – Waves Become Wings (4AD)
Steve Hillage – Rainbow Dome Musick (Virgin)
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani – A New Day (RVNG INTL)
Vapour Space – Gravitational Arch of 10 (Internal)
Linda Perhacs – Parallelograms (Kapp Records)

O Is For Orange teaser

I’m working away on this at the moment after creating a three minute track for Penguin Books from audio book samples for World Book Day and last week’s support slot mix for the Art Of Noise. The new ‘O Is For Orange’ AV set will take the mix I created in 2013 as the starting point but add plenty of new material, not least tracks from ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ and newer songs influenced by the group. It won’t be 100% Boards of Canada like the Aphex Twin set of last year, more using their sound as a basis for the tone of the set and visuals.

Tickets for the Deaf Institute gig are available here. Final tickets for the London premiere at Archspace here

Updates on here are still sporadic as I slowly get my house in order after last year’s move but I can see the wood for the trees now so hopefully things will get back to normal. I’m more visually active on Instagram at the moment as it’s more, well… instant, so you can follow me there and see what I’m up to with lots of incidental stuff that doesn’t make it to this blog. The premiere of this mix is only three weeks away and there will be a second in Manchester at the Deaf Institute in June. Hopefully there will be more bookings to come, keep an eye on the column on the left or my Facebook or Twitter feeds for more info.

FourFromFoodFridays #17.26

FourFromFoodFridays #17.26Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. They can be new or old, any style so long as it’s been getting some rotation in the studio. From top left:

Fracture – Cold & Rain (Cosmic Bridge) 12″ – Rolling thunder at 140 and 160bpm from his new EP on Om Unit’s label – pre-order options with print and/or T-shirt

The Heliocentrics – The Sunshine Makers (Soundway Records) LP – New soundtrack to the documentary film about the LSD makers

Various Artists – Apollo records classics (Solid Steel) Mix – My latest Solid Steel mix of classics from the 25 year old label

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Murder of the Universe (Flightless/Heavenly) LP – still caining this amazing album

Mix of Apollo Records classics on Solid Steel

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I’m not sure if today’s generation of dance music heads know of the impact Apollo made on the electronic scene in the 90s, especially the first half. Apollo was the ambient offshoot of legendary Belgian techno label, R&S, set up to release Aphex Twin‘s ‘Selected Ambient Works’ a quarter of a century ago and distinguish the mellower, more experimental output from the harder, clubbier sounds of the parent imprint.

At that point Warp and R&S were neck and neck as purveyors of the finest electronica outside of the US, their catalogues combined yielding classic after classic of the genre. Although Warp may have ultimately collared Aphex as one of their main artists it was R&S who got him first for two EPs (Didgerydoo and Xylem Tube) and debut album (later followed by ‘Classics’, a compilation of the EPs and other cuts). Even though ‘SAW 1′ was his only release on Apollo it’s one of his most revered and stands up today as the pioneering work it was.

We were in the middle of the great ambient revival of the early 90s where The Orb and the Future Sound of London were making their early classics, Mixmaster Morris was championing all and sundry from the eclectic Rising High label and Pete Namlook’s Fax label was churning out an album a week from his base in Germany. Into this mix Apollo did battle with Warp’s Artificial Intelligence series with their own roster including David Morley, Biosphere, Robert Leiner, Sun Electric and Locust amongst others. The Designers Republic did many a sleeve for them as well just to add to the Warp comparisons.

The label also featured appearances from Global Communications, early Orbital offshoot Kinetic, The Orb, Andrea Parker, Model 500, The Irresistibe Force, Jam & Spoon, Cabaret Voltaire, John Beltran, Thomas Fehlmann, Dave Angel, Ken Ishi, Billy Ray Martin, Riz Maslen, Pete Namlook… the list reads like a who’s who of electronic and ambient music.

Winding down around the early 00’s it was reactivated five years ago to release new music and this year sees the 25th anniversary of the label with a reissue of ‘Selected Ambient Works vol.1’ already in the shops. Search for Apollo on a digital service like Beatport however and you won’t find it although some of the titles are available under the R&S banner, best head to Discogs to flip through the seven pages of releases and discover the many treasures hidden in their catalogue. Or start with the mix they commissioned me to make from a personal selection of my favourites from back in the day to celebrate, which Solid Steel hosts exclusively from today.

Selected Aphex Works 1 & 2 mixes


Seeing as it’s 25 years since Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works 1’ was released and exactly 2 years to the day that my first ‘Selected Aphex Works’ mix was aired on Solid Steel, I thought I’d repost both the first mix and the lesser heard follow up I created for GCASFM.com about a year later. Due to multiple requests in the comments I’ve put up a very limited download of the 2nd mix here and in the Mixcloud comments.
There’s still enough for at least a third volume from the enormous Soundcloud upload he made back in 2015 but if you’re fiending for more then I’ll be premiering a special AFX AV set at Archspace in London on Feb 25th.

RIP David Axelrod

Axe SS CD CoverSo sad to hear of the passing of David Axelrod tonight. If you don’t know the man’s music then all you need is this interview that DK and Dean Smith did with the man back in 2001 for Solid Steel. It’s unlikely that most people wouldn’t know parts of his music, being that he was sampled so widely by hip hop artists like Dr. Dre, DJ Shadow, Black Sheep and more. DK has been an uber-fan for as long as I’ve known him so this interview goes deep.


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Openmind ambient mix on Solid Steel 26.09.94

Telepathic Fish 4 webI was asked by the m.cast website to write some background history on a mix I did for Solid Steel with old friend Mario Aguera under the Openmind DJs name back in 1994 (this was before I became part of DJ Food or had been given the Strictly Kev moniker). Here’s a little slice of London ambient history as I remember it:

Openmind originated at 102 Tintagel Crecsent in East Dulwich, South East London around late 1992. The shared house spread across three floors above a shop, rented out by a local chemist specifically to students at a very reasonable £37 each per week, and the occupants came together by chance from different circumstances. Computer programmer Mario Aguera and 3rd year Camberwell School of Art students David Vallade and Kevin Foakes were later joined by Chantal Passamonte at some point in 1993. They frequented many of the clubs, gigs and underground parties of the time like Club Dog, Tribal Energy and Megatripolis but often found themselves enjoying the post-club comedown chill out sessions more than the actual clubs themselves.

After an incident with a synthesiser, a Rastafarian and a bowl of fish (see David Toop’s excellent ‘Ocean of Sound’ book for details) they formed a collective called Openmind and started a series of ambient parties under the name Telepathic Fish. Nearby neighbour Mixmaster Morris took them under his wing and introduced them to many of his contacts.

The first party was held in their house across two floors which held a rave room with strobe lighting and a chill out complete with tower of scavenged TV sets broadcasting trip videos, black lights and Morris DJing from decks on the next door kitchen counter. Advertised through word of mouth and a few posters at the college, the party drew 300 people and they realised that they had to find somewhere else to do the next one.

A squat in Tunstal Road, Brixton was located and a line up of Mixmaster Morris, Aphex Twin and the Openmind DJs (Mario and Kev) with Matt Black (Coldcut) on visuals played throughout a Sunday afternoon into the evening. A second gig was held at the same venue later that year (’93) which saw members of The Black Dog, Psychic Warriors Ov Gaia and The Future Sound of London checking out what was happening. Early flyers included shaped fish pendants and tea bags, hand-assembled using tracing and holographic paper.

After Matt Black’s initial revelatory experience at the Fish (his first ever VJ set) he invited Mario and Kev to guest on his and Jon More’s weekly KISS FM radio show, Solid Steel in the summer of ’93. They appeared a number of times (11.07.93 / 07.11.93 / 04. 03.94 / 15.07.94) and Matt and Morris continued to guest with music and visuals at the parties.

The venue then changed to the Cool Tan building in Brixton for a fourth excursion that included Matt Black on decks with PC (DJ Food), a pre-Leaf Tony Morley and visuals by Hex. Just before that party Mario and Kev were invited back onto Solid Steel on 26.09.94 and you can hear Matt giving the party a shout out in the mix. The sets played here are a pretty good indication of the sort of thing they played at the Telepathic Fish parties, sometimes pooling their then meagre record collections to fill out the nights.

There were more parties after this, usually as part of bigger events – Orbital’s Brixton Academy gig VIP room, Quirky, Megatripolis, a New Year’s Day party at the derelict Roundhouse and a Dutch excursion that saw them playing in a gas silo. They also produced four issues of an ambient fanzine called Mind Food which they sold at the parties, by mail or in various record shops in London.

Mario went on to join Hex for their early explorations into visuals and software and then headed up a team at a major video game developer. Chantal, David and Kev all worked at the Ambient Soho record shop in Berwick St. at certain points. Chantal went on to become Mira Calix and sign to Warp. David designed record sleeves for Warp, Ntone, Worm Interface, MLO and Reflective among others. Kev became part of DJ Food, carrying the Openmind name on as his design alias whilst shaping the look of the Ninja Tune label in the 90s and 00s.


You can down load this mix directly from the m.cast website here

First hour: Mario Aguera (Openmind/Telepathic Fish)

Coldcut – Autumn Leaves (Irresistible Force remix) (BMG)
UVX ‎- Elevator (13th floor spectrum) (Magick Eye Records)
Frankfurt – Tokio Connection – Luminescent Avatar (Harthouse / Rising High)
Golden Girls – Kinetic (Morley’s Apollo mix) (R&S)
Psychic Warriors Ov Gaia – Obsidian (Deconstruction) (KK Records)
The Grid – Crystal Clear (The Orb remix) (Virgin)
Ongaku – Mihon 2 (Fax/Rising High)
UVX ‎- Elevator (13th floor spectrum) (Magick Eye Records)
Deep Forest – Sweet Lullaby (Natural Trance Mix) (Columbia)
Peter Gabriel – At Night (Real World)
Amorphous Androgynous – Mountain Goat (Virgin)
System 7 – 7-7 Expansion (Double Edged Sword mix) (Big Life)
David Morley – Calibration (Apollo)

Second hour: Kevin Foakes (Openmind/Telepathic Fish – pre-DJ Food)

Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Warriors of the Wasteland (End) (ZTT)
Harold Budd & The Cocteau Twins – Memory Gongs (4AD) / S’Xpress – Coma (Record Mirror) No-Man – Days In The Trees (Reich) (One Little Indian)
KLF – What Time Is Love (Virtual Reality mix) (KLF Communications)
Jesus Jones – Zeroes & Ones (Aphex Twin Reconstruction 2 mix) (Food/EMI)
David Sylvian – Home (Virgin)
This Mortal Coil – Andialu (4AD)
B12 – Soundtrack of Space (Warp)
Spacetime Continuum – Fluorescence (Reflective)
Eurhythmics – The City Never Sleeps (Capitol)
Moody Boys – Free (XL)
Depth Charge – Depth Charge (Drum Death Version) (Vinyl Solution)
Material – Mantra (Praying Mantra mix) (Axiom)
Dub Syndicate – What Happened? (On-U Sound)
Moody Boys – Pumpin Dumpin (XL)
Plaid – Yamemm – (Warp)
unknown (Digidub or Moody Boys?)
Minnie Ripperton – Lovin’ You (Epic)

Solid Steel: DJ Mighty Atom vs DJ Shadow + DJ Food vs De:tuned

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The latest Solid Steel show features DJ Mighty Atom‘s deconstruction of DJ Shadow‘s ‘Endtroducing’ album, now 20 years old, in hour 1 and my taster mix for the new De:tuned Records ‘Brainbox’ compilation in hour 2. I’m biased but that’s a great way to spend 2 hours this weekend IMO.

Mighty Atom’s mix follows Solid Steel’s tried and tested blueprint of finding the original sources used in heavily sampled classics (see Beastie Boys, De La Soul, Public Enemy, Beck and Nas of past shows) and adding spoken word snippets relating to the making of said album. He rises to the challenge admirably and this has to be one of my favourite mixes of the year.

My own mix takes a sample of tracks from the huge new 6xLP ‘Brainbox’ compilation, adds some past releases from the same label and hides some exclusives not due until next year in too. For fans of 90s era electronica from labels like Warp, R&S, Red Planet or Axis then this is for you – lots of familiar names, all brand new tracks.
SS imageDJFoodvsDeTuned

Future Shock 3AV mix

Future Shoc 3AV
After the audio version on Friday’s Solid Steel, here’s the video version, a collection of retro-futuristic sounds from the past and present that premiered at the recent Videocrash night in London. A host of specially edited videos assembled from my visual archive with interjections from ‘This Is Marshall McLuhan’ and ‘Magic Trip’ among others. Spot the difference between this and the audio version…


Due to various streaming problems we’ve put it on two different platforms, if one doesn’t work for you try the other

DJ Food – Future Shock 3 (AV-Mix) from ARMTONE on Vimeo.

Coming this Friday to Solid Steel…

Beck YoDelay

Last week, DJ‘s Cheeba & Moneyshot finished their deconstruction of Beck’s album, ‘Odelay’, which celebrated it’s 20th anniversary on June 18th. As he plays Glastonbury this coming weekend, Solid Steel will premiere the mix on Friday 24th, entitled, ‘Yo! Delay’. A long time in the making, it’s over an hour of the LP broken down into samples, interview snippets, scratch routines and more, in the same way our ‘Caught In The Middle of a Three-Way Mix’ did with the Beastie Boys’ ‘Paul’s Boutique’ a few years back.

Lucky enough to hear it before the public, I stuck it on and we had a message session via Facebook, below are some of my (edited) comments as I listened for the first time…

you get a Devil’s Haircut acappella?
is that the Stones with the guitar riff?
mad JB cover there
I reckon Beck might thank you for not putting the track list out there
This is great guys
oh that New Pollution sax break is great
Oh Lee Michaels! – you have that album? Killer
I hope you got Mantronix into Where It’s At?
There she blows!
hairs on the back of the neck moment
Anyone ever do a porno with whales called ‘There she blows’ Roy?
ah this is f**king great guys, I’m grinning
This extended freakout bit with samples and spoken cuts is redefining the mix guys – insane
oh! Dick Hyman!
f**k guys, mix of the year so far
A few people are going to have their dreams shattered though – “I thought Beck wrote that!”
make a little commentary to go with it, the first real time mix commentary – you could break down what you did?
Well, guys – mix of the year so far, you nailed it, didn’t want it to end – well done

Cavern of Anti-Matter Solid Steel mix

I totally forgot to post this last weekend as I was away. After their storming gig in London in February I asked Tim Gane from COAM if he’d be up for a Solid Steel mix for us. Not only did he say yes but he delivered two exclusive hour long mixes titled ‘Whiteout Mix’ and ‘Blackout mix’ that parallel each other with some of the same artists appearing on both hours. As a result we gave the whole of last week’s show over to him.

“An abstracted trawl through some prized recordings. Music can be like a fever dream with no rational interpretations possible and all these tracks have given me that rush. Over the years they have shown me the door and window to another kind of sound and new forms of composition and an endless collage of possibility.Totally shocking listening to these tracks again and putting the mix together. I have included one of my own mess about loops from about 8 or 9 years ago.”

The Comet Is Coming Solid Steel mix


The Comet Is Coming celebrate the release of their debut album Channel The Spirits on The Leaf Label, King Shabaka, aka Shabaka Hutchings (also of Sons Of Kemet and Melt Yourself Down) drops his first mixtape with a quality selection of music personal to him.

“I’ve never done a mixtape before so when asked to do this I immediately though back to my favourite DJs and what their selections did for me. I love it when I hear massive leaps in genre during a set which seem to make sense despite all the odds and retain a trajectory of intensity. Immediately I think of Gaslamp Killer who I toured with last year and was able to see him do his thing up close, and Ntone Edjabe who is a DJ extraordinaire based in Cape Town. These are all tunes that have meant a lot to me at various points in my life so it’s interesting for me to see the narrative which connects them.”

Near Mint show Pt.1 & 45 Live Show mix


For all those who won’t see the updated posts further down the feed; here’s last night’s new Resonance FM show, Near Mint, that I featured on with some highlights of my collection. Plus here’s the 45Live Radio Show I had an all-45s guest mix slot on with Greg Belson last Friday night/Saturday morning on Dublab.

Researching the Ramm.Ell.Zee

RAMM_Will_IanRAMM_DrZuluRacer2

Last week I played at the opening of the ‘Cosmic Flush’ exhibition in London at the Magda Danysz Gallery. The contents of which celebrated the work and life of Rammellzee, the MC and artist who passed away in 2010. Instigated by the Gamma Proforma label, it was full of art from the new album and attended by a who’s who of the leftfield art scene. Pieces by Futura 2000, Kofie 1, She One, Will Barras, Dan Lish and Poesia sat with art from three of Ramm’s crew: Doze Green, Ian Kuali’i and one of Dr Zulu‘s Lego letter racers. There were also life-size cut-outs of Rammellzee in full battle gear by Will Barras with backgrounds by O.Two.

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The exhibition will run until 22nd December. The gallery is open daily from 11am-7pm, closed Mondays.
You can buy the seven releases that make up the ‘Cosmic Flush’ album from Gamma’s online store.

During the run up to the exhibition opening The Quietus website premiered a piece I’d written about Ramm which you can read in full here. It featured a previously unseen image by Timothy Saccenti, made in collaboration with Rammellzee, for a photo session they did in 2005. Here’s another unpublished image from the same time and I’m incredibly grateful to Timothy for letting me use these great images for the piece.

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At the opening I played an all-Rammellzee set including a new mix I made for Solid Steel celebrating his musical career. The object was to map an aural history of Rammellzee‘s recorded output, in roughly chronological order, to showcase his music, theories and wordplay for those who wondered what all the adulation and legendary status was about. Take a trip from the early 80s up to the present day, through Ramm’s intricate, confusing, yet always unique recording career from his old school origins through to his final masterpiece.

As an addition to The Quietus piece, for which I had way too many images, here’s an extended look at some of his releases over the years. Going back to the beginning, want to see Profile Records‘ original master tape of the ‘Beat Bop’ single? It was recently unearthed by Noah Uman and given a proper reissue after countless bootlegs over the years. Originals now go for triple figures, but here’s the no frills master tape box that was taken from Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s original reel.
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Here’s the Slinky Gym School single he featured on in 1983

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The 1985 Death Comet Crew 12″ on Beggars Banquet 

Ramm DCCfrontRamm DCCbackThe Gettovets album with Shock Dell and Delta II, produced by Material on 4th & Broadway in the late 80s
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Whilst researching the mix I came across some beautiful sleeve artwork from the various Japanese-only albums and DVD releases in the 00s. Some of these were news to me but well worth tracking down.
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