FACT MIXES - FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music.
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Earlier this year, Equiknoxx, the Jamaican duo of Gavin “Gavsborg” Blair and Jordan “Time Cow” Chung with collaborators Bobby Blackbird and Kofi Knoxx, released Bird Sound Power on Demdike Stare’s exceptional DDS imprint. The album sums up Equiknoxx’s output perfectly, shining a spotlight on their ingenious fusion of fractured dancehall riddims and spacious experimental sounds – in many ways it serves as a primer for anyone unfamiliar with a sound they’ve been developing over the last near-decade. Bird Sound Power is a compilation release put together by Demdike Stare and Jon K, collecting up a number of vintage productions (the oldest dates from 2009) and placing them alongside completely new tracks giving a line into the Equiknoxx crew’s sprawling discography. They’ve been releasing records since 2008, dropping 7″s (and more recently, MP3s) on their own Equiknoxx Musiq imprint and fostering a stable of friends and collaborators to flesh out their unique take on dancehall. It’s Gavsborg who has pieced together this blistering FACT mix, and he’s pieced together a typically unpredictable sun-baked blend where you’ll find Ace of Base and Shakira next to Popcaan, Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles next to regular Equiknoxx collaborator Puppy Disco, a sizzling dancehall edit of Andy Stott’s ‘Numb’ (seriously) and plenty of the duo’s own productions. Equiknoxx Music’s latest single ‘Bubble’, featuring Devin Di Dakta is out now on Manchester’s Swing Ting imprint.
They launched their label Dixon Avenue Basement Jams in 2012 off the back of a decade of digging and DJing as residents at Monox, the two-room haven for house, techno and electro described by Jackmaster as nothing less than “Glasgow’s Berghain”. Named in honour of the legendary afterparties held at their flat on Dixon Avenue, the label’s penchant for rugged, raw and subtly freaky tracks quickly elevated them into the league of “buy on sight” via early releases from Marquis Hawkes and Jared Wilson, who’ve become regulars on the imprint. More recently they’ve flagged up the considerable talents of newcomer Denis Sulta and dropped their third “Allstars” EP featuring Casio Royale and O.D.D. Dan and Kenny’s FACT mix is proof that there’s no need to arse around building a “journey” if you’ve got enough absolute bangers at your fingertips, and with forthcoming DABJ material from Big Miz and Hammer placed next to winning trax from 2 Live Crew and Parris Mitchell, it’s a readymade party. Plus, any mix that features Floorplan’s ‘Mmm Hmm Hmm’ gets a trolley full of bonus points. Get stuck in.
Last month he reminded us of his undying love for proper techno via a DJ Kicks mix packed with heavy-duty belters sourced from Berlin, Detroit and Glasgow, a selection harking back to his formative years at his first party, Seismic. The aim of the mix, he told us, was to remind anyone who’d encountered his festival-friendly Tweak-A-Holic sets that he’s no “one-trick pony” party-starter, and quash the lingering falsehood that he’s some kind of dubstep DJ. “Never in my life have I ever played a set purely of one genre, let alone dubstep,” he pointed out, and we’re delighted to present Exhibit A in his defence: Jackmaster’s 2008 FACT mix. One of the very earliest FACT mixes, it’s boisterous and eclectic but tightly controlled, darting from Mr. Oizo to L-Vis 1990 and from Zomby to Lil Wayne remixes. Like he told us last month, “I don’t really believe in DJing to tick boxes. I think that’s probably why I’ve always been all over the place in terms of genres.” The mix is so ancient, in FACT terms at least, that we didn’t even have the tracklist, so shout out MixesDB for this one.
Brooklyn-based producer, DJ and boss of the esteemed Mixpak imprint, Dre Skull (aka Andrew Hershey) is a serial overachiever. And when his crew took the win at this year’s RBMA Culture Clash in London he proved that despite previously shaky showings, the USA was a force to be reckoned with. Hershey cut his teeth in the East Coast’s DIY scene, getting swept up with Providence’s legendary Fort Thunder collective and eventually selling merch for noise rockers Lightning Bolt. After a move to a Brooklyn warehouse with his DIY and visual artist friends he briefly grazed on the performance art scene, working on provocative pieces that reinterpreted Yoko Ono and deconstructed cultural tropes. These projects were successful – but Hershey had been working on sketches of dancehall riddims at the time, and after collaborating with Sizzla on 2009’s ‘Gone Too Far’ he launched Mixpak and started the ball rolling on a career that’s still growing. In the last few years, Hershey has worked with Popcaan, Karmin, Jamie xx and even Snoop Dogg (as Snoop Lion) but his most important collaboration to date has undoubtedly been with Jamaican legend Vybz Kartel. Hershey produced Vybz Kartel’s 2011 album Kingston Story and released it on Mixpak, achieving the kind of acclaim that has led to a slew of opportunities since. Dre Skull’s debut FACT mix is perfectly primed for humid summer listening, a blend of urgent dancehall shockers from Vybz Kartel, Spice, Popcaan, Mavado and others that practically force-feeds you a glass of Wray and Nephs and a plate of fried snapper. It’s one of the most unashamedly enjoyable FACT mixes in some time – one for cracking the windows and turning up until the speakers give way.
At that stage they were truly at the top of their game. The early critical acclaim of albums like Reveille and Apple O’ had led to a genuine swell of interest in Deerhoof’s peculiar, deeply original avant garde rock music and by the time Milk Man appeared in 2004, there was a sense that they’d reached the next level. Milk Man was a breath of fresh air, with the band’s four members combining disparate elements – pop, metal, Broadway musicals and TV themes – to emerge with a record so confounding that it was adapted into a children’s ballet not long afterwards. By the time they reached 2005 and The Runners Four, Pitchfork was right. In the years since, Deerhoof have toured with Radiohead and The Flaming Lips, collaborated with Questlove and The Late Late Show with James Corden bandleader Reggie Watts and released a slew of albums. They’re still in a league of their own, penning music that defies simple comparison, and this summer they dropped their latest full-length, the urgent and economical The Magic. To celebrate this record, the band have thrown together their first FACT mix, and it’s (almost predictably) all over the shop. Where else will you find a Perez Prado track mixed into Cate Le Bon, before Marcellus Pittman segues into DJ Rashad via some Star Trek sound effects? Like everything Deerhoof does, it’s eclectic but not elitist – just turn up, tune in and leave your inhibitions at the door.
The LA-based producer has been putting out music at an alarming rate for the last decade, both solo (under his own name and using the aliases Personable and Fantastic Ego) and in a plethora of bands, from Britt Brown’s stoner rock troupe Robedoor to dub reggae production outfit Duppy Gun Productions. In recent years, Gengras has put more focus on his solo work, dropping the gauzy Ishi album for Stones Throw offshoot Leaving Records in 2014, and putting out compilation record Collected Works Vol. 2: New Process Music on Mexican label Umor Rex. This month he’s set to release his latest full-length, Interior Architecture, a blend of modular synthesizer experimentation and digital techniques set to drop on Intercoastal Artists on July 29. Before then, you can get your teeth stuck into this masterful collection of tracks, wherein Gengras maps out his territory with vintage ambience, hazy psychedelia and fractured electronics. We’ve got tracks from LA synth whizz Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Lorenzo Senni (under his Stargate moniker), Coil, Laurel Halo and of course, Gengras himself. It’s the perfect blend for a humid summer; press play and phase into another dimension. You can pre-order Interior Architecture and stream an 18-minute side over at Intercoastal Artists’ Bandcamp page.
FACT has been running our weekly mix series since April 2008, so with hundreds of brilliant sessions gathering dust in the vaults, we decided to dig through the archives and pull out some of our very favorites. Holly Herndon doesn’t do a lot of mixes, in fact as far as we can tell, her 2013 FACT mix is the only one out there. This makes it a prime candidate for re-evaluation as part of the FACT Classic Mix series. The Oakland-based academic should need no introduction at this point – back in 2013 she was riding high on the success of her acclaimed Movement LP, and Herndon has gone from strength to strength since. Last year, she moved from her home at RVNG to indie heavyweight 4AD and released her most fully-realized work to date, the knotty, challenging Platform. It continued to explore the themes of technology and futurism that has guided her past work, but added topics such as systemic inequality, surveillance states and neo-feudalism. Ambitious, certainly, but Herndon filters these themes through a mesh of disparate influences, from minimal techno to musique concrète. This mix shines a spotlight on some of these influences, and dots around the map accordingly, welding together tracks from Norwegian avant garde legend Maja Ratkje, techno don Jamal Moss (aka Hieroglyphic Being), Raster Noton’s Byetone, experimental composer Trevor Wishart and more. As you might expect, it’s a breathtaking journey through experimental sound and rhythm and well worth 40 minutes of your time.
Toronto’s Nathan Micay (aka Bwana) has had a vintage year so far. In March, he released the Capsule’s Pride mini-album via Glasgow imprint LuckyMe. The record was built from snippets taken from Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 animated film adaptation of his popular comic book series Akira, weaving the familiar sounds of the Neo-Tokyo dystopia into a suite of beats that wouldn’t sound out of place at Berghain. Capsule’s Pride is among FACT’s favorite records this year so far, and was included in our round-up of the best albums from the first few months of the year. His latest EP on Aus Music – Opening The Gate – is another unmissable plate, influenced by his time DJing at Berlin’s Panorama bar and chock full of diva vocals and dancefloor euphoria. Now, Micay has provided us with his debut FACT mix, a blistering summer run of sizzling house, electro, techno and even a little bit of EBM thrown in for good measure (we see you Front 242). It’s just the kind of mix you need mid-way through festival season, so get yer shorts out, get yer shades on and pour yourself a pint of Pimms. If you want to catch Bwana in the flesh, he’s performing at NYC’s Good Room on July 23, and at Panorama Bar in Berlin on August 12.
We’ve had Konx-om-Pax’s Caramel on constant rotation since Planet Mu sent us an advance copy a couple of months ago, and it’s turned out to be the rare record that seduces everyone in the office. The second album from multimedia artist Tom Scholefield (released last Friday) is a crumpled love letter to the lip-biting euphoria of raves long past, and a record that came out of a grim period for the Glasgow native. “There was so much going on I found depressing that this record was almost a therapy,” he told FACT last week. “It was an attempt to be aggressively positive.” Scholefield’s FACT mix unpicks some of the influences behind Caramel‘s noise-smeared, pitch-bent, planet-sized emotional bangers – from the bittersweet heaviness of Boards of Canada to Lone’s giddy rave nostalgia, with appearances from Jeff Mills’ recently reissued Final Cut project, Robert Hood and Lee Gamble. Needless to say, it’s euphoric.
FACT has been running our weekly mix series since April 2008, so with hundreds of brilliant sessions gathering dust in the vaults, we decided to dig through the archives and pull out some of our very favorites. Next up for re-evaluation is this corker of a selection from Kieran Hebden, better known as Four Tet. Recorded back in 2010 when the UK was still a part of Europe and hope wasn’t an alien concept, the mix finds Hebden at a crucial stage in his career. His excellent Fabric mix CD came only a year later, and this subtle blend of twinkly jazz, womping garage and the post-dubstep shuffle of Floating Points, Ramadanman and Cosmin TRG neatly charts the direction of his next few years of experimentation. As at home splicing together the percussive fury of Bob Holroyd’s ‘African Drug’ and beloved Indian vocalist Lata Mangeshkar’s gorgeous ‘Too Mere Saath Rahega Munne’ as he is beatmatching Mount Kimbie’s ‘Blind Night Errand’ and Grievous Angel’s ‘Move Down Low VIP’, Four Tet is at the height of his creativity here, offering a grip of tracks that shouldn’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Thank the magic of high-speed internet for the bounty of eerie club mutations and emotional bangers offered up so far by young producer Strict Face, whose releases on Mr. Mitch’s Gobstopper, Mumdance and Logos’ Different Circles and Nina Las Vegas’ NLV Records have found him channelling the sounds of London, New Jersey, Atlanta and beyond through his base in Adelaide, Australia. Fun times are at the core of Strict Face’s vivid and muscular approach to the dancefloor, with his recent refix of Britney’s ‘Toxic’ a case in point, and on his high-octane FACT mix he shows us just how deftly he can weave and bob between screwface riddims, sweetboy melodies, jackhammer kicks, the Thong Song and, in the final furlong, slo-mo ambient romance. Look out for fresh bits from Strict Face’s own Sea Lion Gang (Glot, Jawside), Boxed grime explorers (Spooky, Tarquin, Grizzle), hip-hop stylists (Travis Scott, Snow Tha Product) and various friends and fam from travels behind the booth (Finn, T_A_M, DJ Milktray). It’s a total joyride of a mix – get it on loud, for god’s sake.
Kim Ann Foxman has had quite the career. As the former vocalist of nu-disco troupe Hercules and Love Affair she notched up serious acclaim, but in recent years has been building up her name as a house DJ and producer, releasing 12″s on a slew of labels including her own Firehouse imprint. Foxman’s ability to fuse the soulful, sensual sounds of deep house and the slithering, bass-heavy jackin’ flavors of the classic Chicago sound is rare, and completely visible on this hour-long selection. Mostly focusing on her own tracks (and including plenty of exclusive, unreleased tracks) she pushes through a variety of styles, never losing sight of the club and ending on a vintage cut from Aussie post-punkers Severed Heads.
FACT has been running the popular mix series since April 2008, so it felt like a good time to dig through the archives and pull out some of our very favorites. Back in 2010, Rochdale lads Sean Booth and Rob Brown – better known as Warp Records mainstays Autechre – slotted together a sequence of tracks in the run up to that year’s excellent Oversteps full-length. A potent blend of rap (Detroit’s Dilla-approved Phat Kat, Wu Tang’s Raekwon and rapper/producer Black Milk make an appearance), slithering electro, manic breakcore and… err… extreme metal, it shows the duo’s wide range of influences without sounding forced or overly eclectic. At the time, Booth and Brown didn’t have a lot to say about the selection other than, “it’s just some tunes [we] like”. Fair enough then. Some of you might already know that Autechre started out making electro and rave before pushing their sound into the fringes of experimental electronic music, so the mix serves as a timely reminder of the breadth of their interests. It also slots in nicely alongside Autechre’s recently-released mammoth five-part album elseq 1-5, which after a few weeks on heavy rotation still has our jaws nailed firmly to the ground.
When acclaimed noise stalwart Dominick Fernow (aka Prurient) established Vatican Shadow with 2011’s quadruple-tape album Kneel Before Religious Icons, it appeared amongst a throng of noise-adjacent techno releases. However, fusing the chugging rhythmic elements of Muslimgauze and the doomy textures he’d already perfected as Prurient, Fernow had chanced about something with staying power, and in the years since, Vatican Shadow has gone from strength to strength. With releases notched up now on Modern Love, Blackest Ever Black, Type and his own Hospital Productions and Bed of Nails imprints, Fernow has spent time perfecting his sound, and he’s never been better. This month he released the stunning Media In The Service Of Terror album, bundled with an ambitious 100-page mini newspaper featuring clippings and art related to the project. This very rare FACT mix capitalizes on Fernow’s latter-day experience performing at big-room techno venues but loses none of the grit of his early releases. Pounding loops drift in and out of each other, as the propulsive minimal 4/4 of the Panorama Bar collides with hissing tape recordings and the kind of grinding techno you’d expect to find in Birmingham circa 1996. It might not be extreme noise, but Fernow has never sounded so visceral. Vatican Shadow is set to perform in Europe this summer, with show in Amsterdam, at Warehouse Elementenstraat, on August 6; at Berlin’s Berghain on August 13; and at Barcelona’s DNIT Caixaforum on August 24.
Damiano von Erckert may hail from the metronomic city that gave us Can and Kompakt, but his taste for soulful, sample-heavy, loose-jointed house aligns him more closely with fusionists like Floating Points and the dusty vinyl warriors of South London’s Rhythm Section and 22a. After founding his label ava. in 2011 to put out his own productions and local talent like Murat Tepelo and Hodini, this year he launched a new imprint, DVE Records. Kicking off with one of his own releases – and bringing in LA electro legend Egyptian Lover on the remix – the label’s got music from Mall Grab and Ron Trent waiting in the wings later in 2016. Von Erckert’s FACT mix is an eclectic trip with a bit of a journey vibe to it, opening with Motown’s ‘70s fusionists Puzzle and passing through shimmering deep moods, shuffling house and all-out sweat-wringers. Look out for a couple of productions from DVE himself alongside heat from Gemini, Legowelt, Mall Grab and – oh, hello, some vintage Basement Jaxx? Don’t mind if we do.