Smashed It!

So, here we have it. The first mix I’ve released since 2007 and it’s a live one!

I was lucky enough to be asked to play at Flangestock this year, a small festival/ party with a group of friends on a campsite in Suffolk, that’s now into its 5th year. In many ways, this year was the best so far. It’s so great to spend the weekend with friends, new and old, and there’s a really special vibe there.

This year, my only plan for the set was to rip yet more vinyl and create a crate in serato with tunes from 2006 and earlier, mostly breaks, all breakbeat. On the day, I decided to deliver some classic, huge tunes of breaks legend and the reaction was fantastic. This music just has so much more to offer than the modern sound, helped along by the fact that some of these tunes are favourites amongst a crowd that follows breaks.

There were a few problems along the way, such as a recurring fluffy needle on one deck, but overall it all went pretty well, considering I’d never practiced this set before. Some things worked, some things just got crowbarred in, but I can safely say I’ve never had a reaction to a set, like the one I got that night.

It was so rewarding, and my appreciation goes out to all those that came and danced and cheered, to the producers who made this fantastic music way back when and most importantly of all, to Emskina Flange, who asked me to play.

The tracklist is in the image above.

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Flangestock 2010

So…  three weekends since Festinho and here I am gushing about another small, intimate and friendly festival.  This time it’s Flangestock, a private party on a campsite in Suffolk, put on by a good friend.

This is my third visit and it gets better every year.  This year it moved from its more usual date in May, to mid-September, but the weather behaved itself, putting August to shame.

Great people, a relaxed atmosphere and some fantastic music from the DJs set the scene for one of the parties of the year.

Bring on Flangestock 2011!

Here’s a set recorded last thing Friday night – Awe Soundsystem reunited for the evening.

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Festinho – Size Isn’t Everything

It’s been a few years since I went to a festival.  In fact, the last festival I attended was in 2006 – The Glade Festival, near Reading – which was my 4th visit in a row.  To be honest, I would probably have gone for the fifth year, had it not coincided with a friend’s wedding weekend, but the ever increasing size of the event (from 4-5K people in year one to closer to 15,000 by year 4!), combined with continued sound restriction problems that rather lessened the impact of the bass, was already starting to put me off.  It was still highly rated amongst people who came for the first time, but I found that special vibe I experienced in the first year harder and harder to find.

So it was a real blast from the past to experience Festinho last weekend, now in it’s 3rd year and still numbering less than 5,000 people.  What a breath of fresh air!  The location was fantastic.  The freedom from continual security checks and an apparent absence of crime waves made everyone feel relaxed and friendly.  I have to say, when I saw the line-up, I pretty much recognised none of them, but what I found there was a diverse and eclectic mix of music, incorporating bands and cabaret and DJ’s, that meant there was something for everyone.

Of the four small stages, the Clocktower and Woodland stage stood out for me, the latter located in a small clearing in some trees, giving the feel of the party times of days gone by.  Throughout the weekend, I found myself dancing to Hip Hop, Disco, Funk… anything with a beat, a world away from the world of breaks, where people stop dancing if anything lacking a breakbeat makes an appearance.  There’s no time to ponder the genre when everyone is smiling and laughing and having a good time is there?  You just get on with it and enjoy yourself.  And the eclecticism of the sets made it impossible to put any DJ into a box anyway.

There were two special sets that made my weekend.

The first was the Headset Disco, set in the courtyard of the Clocktower Stage.  Two DJs broadcasting to everyone on wireless headsets, giving you the chance to choose between them by switching channels.  It was great, with the silence to outside observers allowing the party to continue beyond the usual midnight cut-off point, until 2am.  Drum n Bass, Hip Hop and even a healthy smattering of Breakbeat filled my ears and I danced away in the gravel until the end of the night.  And when people wanted to talk to each other, no longer did they have to scream into each others ears above the music.  Because you can just remove your headset and have a decent chat.  So refreshing!

Finally, on Sunday night, AGT Rave Cru played on the Woodland Stage.   Every tune that came out of the speakers was a classic.  Higher State, Renegade Master, The Prodigy, Salt & Pepper. They covered it all, accompanied by the cheers of about 100-150 people, adorned in the glowing bracelets handed out at the start.  It was, quite literally, massive and brought about the end to one of the best weekends I’ve had in ages.

Of course, more than anything, it was the people who made it a really special event.  Everyone was so friendly and uninhibited that guards were down and friends were made.  In fact, the festival touched me so much, I decided that perhaps I might start practicing DJing again and come out of the apathetic retirement I seem to have found myself in.

So here’s to the next one.  It doesn’t need to be bigger.  Or better.  It’s pretty much fine as it is.

So shhhh!  Don’t tell anyone.  OK?  ;)

Bil Bless – The Life Mechanism 2

Bil Bless has done what some would call ‘a Radiohead’, in releasing his latest collection of bleeping, glitchy productions on a ‘name your price’ basis.

Of course, there are some differences between this experiment and that pioneered by Radiohead.  Bil Bless doesn’t really have the marketing power of Radiohead.  Or a major record label to fall out with.  It’s probably fair to say that his music isn’t going to be quite as universal as Radiohead’s (although they have their critics) and it would be difficult to claim that he doesn’t need the cash – not that I have seen his bank statements mind you.

But for me, the major differences are as follows:

Unlike the Radiohead experiment with ‘In Rainbows’, you can actually preview Bil’s album.  You can play every single track on the site, from start to finish.  So, when you decide to ‘buy’ the album and are presented with a box in which you decide whether to enter a zero, or something bigger, you have some idea of what you are valuing.

And, while those who downloaded ‘In Rainbows’ ended up with the surprise of an album of 192kbps mp3′s, Bil Bless lets you know what you will end up downloading, as you can choose your format, from lossy mp3′s to lossless flac files.

But of course, these finer details mean very little in the great scheme of things.  It’s the music that counts.

I’ve been a fan of Bil Bless productions for a number of years now, including tracks released under his alias, Son Of The Electric Ghost (SOTEG).  It’s glitchy, experimental music.  You’ll find unusual samples and irregular rhythms in his music.  It can sometimes seem a little inaccessible to the casual listener, perhaps too complex for easy listening.  There are tracks that I would struggle to have the confidence to play out in a set, for fear of pushing the dancefloor too far.  But this album seems a bit different.

The Life Mechanism sounds more structured, more dancefloor orientated.  It still has all the trademarks of Bil Bless/ Soteg, but I can see myself slipping quite a few of these tracks into a live set.

Which is why, when faced with the opportunity of giving nothing for this album, I took the time to think about what it was worth to me.  In the end, I decided on $10.  It’s a little less than I’d pay at Addictech, although I would probably choose only a few tracks I liked in that situation.  But of course, I imagine that more of the money gets to the man who produced the music this way.

Besides, with online stores seeming to take such a large slice of the pie, the future must lie with artists selling their own music.

I for one, would like to encourage that.

You can download the album here:

http://bilbless.bandcamp.com/album/the-life-mechanism-2

name your price

Bennie Project

It’s been quite a while since I’ve heard something truly inspiring appear on the breaks scene.

So I was pretty stunned when I heard the sounds of Bennie Project on a release by Hungary’s Glack Audio. The VERS EP is a collection of tracks from a man called Teun Verstraaten, based in The Netherlands.

Three tracks on the EP have stayed in the box; V.E.R.S, Fleshwound and The Peep Show remix of Zora’s Domain, ultimately because they feature broken beats.

The tracks feature a lot of contrast, building from haunting electro sounds into heavy growling electro bass, more in keeping with tearout breaks. The beats skip and repeat, keeping the mind interested and the quality of production is high.

Here’s hoping there will be more of the same arriving in the pipeline, which will make Bennie Project a name to watch out for in the future breaks scene.

Look out for his remix of Trackbasse, by Xenon and The Weekenders too.