Saturday, April 26, 2008
Sometimes a label is more than a label. Sometimes it's an indicator of what you're all about. Commercialism and consumerism aside, we all align ourselves with bands/groups/personalities/magazines that mirror our beliefs, hopes, and desires in an attempt to connect to SOMETHING in this post-9/11 (or 7/7) world we live in... maybe that's a little intense but it's true.
As the record industry is pumping schlock in an attempt to sell anything possible, a few labels still stand out as being consistant and admirable; to find one that isn't JUST concerned with money is difficult (and if that's not the sole focus it's almost heroic given the economy and the pressure to sell or fold). A great label doesn't compromise and they do what's best artistically. Astralwerks is one of those labels... Dim Mak... all the major indies in the U.S... Sub-Pop, Matador, Thrill Jockey, Touch & Go, Kill Rock Stars etc... obviously the UK/EU has way more amazing uncompromising labels like Warp, Modular, Kitsune that get attention... the list could go on for days!
One label stands out especially though... because it's not just a label... it's a brand. A brand the way that Factory Records was... or Ghostly International is (ps. buy the JDSY album, it's amazing). It's a club that people feel they are really a part of, it's a touchstone for burdgeoning graphic design, it a label people respect for it's quality control, a venue that people look at as a mecca, it's everything a fan/clubber/dj/bloke could every want all at once. It's Fabric.
Now, even as a DJ, I've grown tired of DJ Mixes. They are fucking EVERYWHERE. I could amass 10 gigs worth of free mixes between now and midnight so how can I have any interest in a DJ mix (which is bad news for my DJing self because I know other people think that too). Fabric is some whole 'nother shit though. The tunes and the quality of the mixing, the mastering... it's just awesome. I'm going to begin doing regular posting about Fabric's cd lines (both Fabric and FabricLive) because in my mind they are a British institution that has been a vital part of clubland (and everywhere else) for this whole decade. Regardless of whether the artist is British or not I will be reviewing the work seeing has home base is in London! So let's get cracking and I'll go over the last few releases that have really popped out to me...
Fabric 39: Robert Hood
I live close to Detroit (at least closer than you probably!) so Underground Resistance and Robert Hood are hot shit in my mind. As soon as I opened the envelope and saw that I went apeshit. This cd isn't fucking around and gets fast and frenetic from the get go. We've probably all had those moments (for me it was Matthew Dear and Ryan Elliot as well as Kevin Saunderson at DEMF.. errr, I mean Movement) where we appreciate techno so much we wish we could touch it... this cd will allow you to embrace the physicality of dance music whether or not you are dancing because the bass is THICK. We probably wouldn't have minimal techno without this man and this release shows he's as vital as ever.
Here's some of the press...
"In an era where credit is rarely given when due, a lot of today’s so-called “minimal” enthusiasts may not actually be familiar with its creator: it’s near impossible to find anyone who can rival the magnificence and innovation of Robert Hood. With an absolute, visionary state of mind, Hood has been one of the most extraordinary and forward-thinking artists in the history of techno. He’s regarded by some of the biggest names in electronic music as being one of the founding fathers of techno’s development, yet some of the newer faces to minimal are none the wiser.
Raised primarily on Motown in Detroit, Robert Hood’s family was enveloped in music: his mother recorded a 45” locally, his uncle managed jazz and R&B bands, his grandmother’s first cousin was Berry Gordy, his father was a jazz musician (piano, drums, and trumpet). Robert followed his father’s footsteps at a young age, picking up trumpet in the school band. But, distracted by youth, it wasn’t long before he swapped the trumpet for vinyl, obsessively focussing on the arrangements, musicality and instrumentation of the records he cherished. His zealous interest in production guided him to a pawn shop, where he picked up some basic equipment and began recording demos. Unable to find someone able to do “some kind of political abstract MCing – a cross between Chuck D and Q-Tip,” Robert laid down his own lyrics on his productions. Eventually, a fortuitous introduction to a well-connected musician, Mike Clark (a.k.a. Agent X), led to him eventually pass on a demo to a key player in underground Detroit, Mike Banks. Instantly enamoured with his lyrical styling, Mike Banks and Jeff Mills took Robert on board as an MC for 2 tracks on a compilation they were putting together. As Robert’s productions grew stronger, the incomparable Underground Resistance crew formed, putting political outrage to an experimental beat, and Robert found his place as a seminal member, the “Minister of Information.” With UR, Robert forged a path for himself, creating a simple yet powerful sound that fully encompassed the Detroit ethos, but also pushed unparalleled levels of imagination.
Fabriclive 39: DJ Yoda
This cd is b-a-n-a-n-a-s. You've got a reqiuem, a shout out from Kanye, and the Violent Femmes in the first like 2 minutes. It's mostly straight up purist hip-hop with nice DJ tricks but then you've also got like The Coral toward the end. This is the one I put on the most at my house. This cd would be a great present for your friend who blathers on about how hip-hop sucks now, no one is doing anything dope or pushing boundaries anymore... because Yoda does that. The force is strong here... you know I had to say that lol...
Good press blurb...
"FABRICLIVE.39 ArtworkWe’ve all been there at one point: sat in our bedrooms, making homemade pause/record mixes with our tape decks, convinced that someday our names would grace music history books alongside Grandmaster Flash, Steinski and Jazzy Jeff. But alas, our mixtapes that could’ve made Spinbad sweat have been chewed up and acquired nothing but dust, and ‘cut n paste’ has sadly become a term that causes even the strongest of us to shudder, as we recall a grueling day in the office struggling with Excel. But one DJ, hailing from North London, held tight to his dreams; his undamaged mixtapes have only gotten more polished and famed as he continues to commandeer the cut n paste fight – the irreplaceable, definitive hip hop protagonist, DJ Yoda.
Surrounded by music from his very onset, with both parents avidly working in the industry (his father a manager of legendary artists such as Eddy Grant and Eurhythmics; his mother working for various producers), even young Duncan Beiny’s bedroom was no escape, being the storage space for his dad’s abundant record collection. His father’s cherished pop records were thoroughly ruined when Duncan began learning to scratch at the ripe age of 15. Originally DJing under the name DJ Beiny (actually his first two initials and surname), it was a Yoda toy that sat by his turntables that ultimately gave him a DJ name that stuck when he was 19 years old. His combined loves of quirky pop music and 90s hip hop became fused and intertwined on home-made demo mixtapes, at first modestly distributed amongst the smaller of record shops. They eventually caused such a stir on the underground hustle – by the year 2000, over 5,000 were being distributed around the country - that it caught the attention of Antidote Records, through whom he released three consecutive volumes of an official mixtape series titled ‘How To Cut & Paste.’ Entertaining, sentimental, kitsch and musically unbound, the mixtape series brought an accessible sense of humour to what had essentially become the serious, elitist world of hip hop.
“From around 2000, hip hop went downhill for me. It was getting a bit samey – for me, all the best stuff was out in the early 90s. It was the rawness, you know? Now I think a lot of middle class, happy people are making it, whereas for me a lot of the best music comes out of frustration, anger and difficult times. I just think that hip hop has become safe. To me, I’m a hip hop DJ but my understanding of hip hop means you play everything. The style you play it in makes it hip hop for me. It’s why I’ll play anything from TV themes to kid’s music to religious music – it can be anything. But I think if you know how to scratch or can feel a beat, then you’re a hip hop DJ.” – DJ Yoda"
Fabric 40: Mark Farina
I lived in Chicago for a few years back (hence why I still yap about that scene even though this is a primarily British blog; gotta support my boy Curt Autobot and Flosstradamus, Kid Sister, Cool Kids, and all them cats)... so once again Farina is another big name for me personally. Farina can do a straight up funky ass Chicago/SF house blend, or just drop the sunniest alt-hip hop with the smoothest transitions on earth. I got to see him in Miami in 2003 and it was like magic. I was at the party by myself, it was actually my birthday, and I wasn't even trying to pick up girls or get crazy waster-cated... Farina brings the type of DJing I enjoy most and I just wanted to bask in it's glory. I'm a firm believer (just for me when I'm DJing) in riding out the transition and dropping bits of the record back in after it's dropped and that's something he's really skilled at. This cd highlights that and reminds you why Farina is one of America's treasures as a pioneer and an amazing DJ. I tell you, Fabric means quality, and Farina brings his best in a minute here...
The press for this cd...
"fabric 40 ArtworkMusic has ruled Mark Farina’s every step, since his vibrant youth: days spent marching routines with a trumpet in his Chicago high school’s band blurred into wild nights stomping around hardcore and punk shows. Eventually persuading his parents to allow him to ditch the brass bugle and bring a drum set into the house, Mark held the beat down for a New Wave alternative cover band (reworking The The, The Smiths, The Cure, Front 242, Ministry and the like) that tore through countless garages, gymnasiums, churches and Battle of the Bands. As Mark’s musical tastes took a turn for the electronic, he dove head-first into the luscious world of turntables and nightclubs, a shift reflected by his band becoming the high school’s first to incorporate a drum machine in its setup. Zealously weaving in and out of late-night teen clubs in-between his electronic band’s shows, Mark celebrated his first solo DJ gig at the Chicagoan underage mecca, Medusa’s, at the age of 16."
So there you go kids... You can get streams of the albums over at FabricFirst. I suggest you do that and then get yourself a copy because it's hot. If we want quality we have to support the people who are giving it to us.
Coming up on the 2nd you lucky Londoners (or people from the surrounding area) can get down on the hottest shit in the universe @ Fabric... Joe Chip? Switch & Sinden? Kid Sister boyfriend and Kanye DJ Mr. A-Trak? Surkin's album launch AND Para One is there (I just bought that Para One album "Epophanie"... what a fucking banger)? Plus there are like 7 other people I'd kill to see... Rusko... damn... you gotta go for me... take pictures!
SWITCH AND SINDEN present GET FAMILIAR
Joe Goddard (Hot Chip) DJ Set
INSTITUBES PARIS TERROR CLUB
Surkin (Album Launch)
I've got a review I'm going to do for Radioactive Man, which was released on a Fabric sub-label, but I want to give that it's own review in it's own space. Keep your eye out for that! There will be more to come so I hope you guys have enjoyed our first foray into the music universe that is Fabric London... come back soon!