Summary: Every week, FACT brings you mixes from the hottest DJs and artists in the world.
s the 1970s drew to a close, composer Edward Larry Gordon had a revelation. He’d spent the early part of his life studiously immersing himself in music, studying composition and piano at the prestigious Howard University in Washington D.C., but he was feeling limited by the structures imposed on his art. He was in New York City pursuing acting and comedy when he became obsessed with the Autoharp. A traditional folk instrument primarily associated with bluegrass, the quirky instrument fascinated Gordon, who swapped his Yamaha 6-string acoustic guitar for one at a pawn shop and never looked back. Using a Japanese clay modeling stick he’d found in Tokyo, he approached the instrument in a completely unique way, using open tunings and electrifying the output with a guitar amplifier. This revelation coincided with an interest Gordon had developed in meditation as searched for answers that were not emerging from his brushes with fame and New York society. As the meditative practices and Autoharp experimentation converged, Gordon’s sound became more unique and he would busk regularly at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. One admirer was ambient music pioneer Brian Eno, who in 1978 left a note in Gordon’s busker’s case asking if he would be interested in collaboration. The result was 1980’s Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, a musical milestone that introduced listeners across the world to the transcendent sound of Laraaji. Since then, Gordon has never stopped performing, recording and sharing his thoughts and practices – encouraging deep listening, meditation and laughter with a series of incredible albums and shows. Laraaji’s FACT mix is, as expected, a journey to the spiritual plane, with his own compositions layered around exceptional cuts from Tetsu Inoue, Albert Ayler, Alice Coltrane, Iasos and others. On Record Store Day this Saturday, Laraaji will release Sun Transformations, a special album of remixes and edits of material from last year’s Sun Gong and Bring On The Sun from the likes of Ras G, DNTEL and Carlos Nino.
It’s not easy to pin down Ayman Rostom, aka The Maghreban. Rostom’s been producing music for years, but until 2014 the sounds were a long way from The Maghreban’s crumbling house. He cut his teeth as part of Surrey-based hip-hop crew Diversion Tactics, where he produced under the Dr. Zygote moniker. After a handful of solo releases, he embarked on a stylistic shift, reconnecting with the dance music of his youth and emerging with a slew of house 12″s in 2014 under the shadowy moniker The Maghreban. As an outsider, Rostom has been able to fold in his influences without feeling beholden to any of dance music’s rules. He grew up listening to his older brother’s hardcore tapes and that ragged influence is still on show in his productions. This “anything goes” outlook, along with the influence of classic hip-hop, is what anchors Rostom’s productions and what sets him apart from his peers. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that his debut FACT mix is delightfully eclectic. Rostom maintains momentum throughout but isn’t afraid to push himself into areas that might not make sense at a glance. He runs through a selection of his own vital productions into Carl Craig’s Detroit techno classic ‘Technology’ and makes a diversion for Mark Ernestus’s percussive ‘Walo Walo Rhythm’ and The Eurythmics’ ‘Monkey Monkey’ before settling back into the groove, ending on Nummer’s woozy ‘Second Sight’. It’s a rugged, heavy-duty selection that reminds you of the value of crate digging.
Netflix’s Stranger Things is a phenomenon. The third most-watched original show on the network, the sci-fi series has captured hearts and minds with its nostalgic premise, lovable cast and, most importantly, the eerie, synth-driven soundtrack from Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon of Austin-based band S U R V I V E . The duo were snapped up to score the show after creators the Duffer Brothers had used a S U R V I V E track in their pitch to Netflix. Their demo cues were even used in the casting process, so it’s hardly surprising how important their Tangerine Dream-influenced sound was to the show’s pacing and atmosphere. S U R V I V E’s fourth album of moody instrumental synthscapes, RR7349 is set to drop on Relapse and their own Holodeck label at the end of the month and is jam-packed full of the band’s unmistakable tropes. Fans of Stranger Thingswon’t be disappointed – while the album offers a more upbeat take on their sound, the wobbling monosynth leads and clipped analog percussion should take you right back to the Upside Down. The band’s FACT mix is similarly synth-led, blending a grab bag of S U R V I V E’s plethora of influences – from Japanese pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra and prog legends Camel to Dutch master Legowelt and Finnish IDM hero Ovuca. It’s eclectic but never tiring and offers a gripping look into the sounds behind one of the most talked-about bands of the year.
Artists don’t come much more legendary than Californian vocalist Mike Patton. Known for his distinctive vocal style, Patton rose to notoriety with avant-garde rock troupe Mr. Bungle before, in 1988, replacing Chuck Mosley as frontman of rock band Faith No More. From there, things escalated fast – Faith No More’s popularity in the US and beyond positioned countless new eyes on Patton’s more divisive projects – such as Mr. Bungle, who were signed to Warner Bros. as a result of Patton’s popularity – and he suddenly had a springboard for his diverse musical interests. In 1999, Patton established the Ipecac imprint. The influential label would go on to release curiosities from a diverse run of talented weirdos, from mainstays Melvins and Patton’s own Tomahawk, Peeping Tom and of course Fantômas to avant rap troupe Dälek, Mouse on Mars and kid606. Ipecac even managed to snag a release from soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone that still stands as the composer’s most gripping body of work. Not bad for a label that’s notoriously critical of tying its artists into long-term contracts. With all this under his belt, it would have been easy for Patton to rest on his laurels, but over the last few decades he has continued to push himself ceaselessly. He’s worked with artists like Kool Keith, Massive Attack and, notably, Björk (on her vocal-heavy Medúlla album), lent his voice to video games such as underrated comic book-influenced FPS The Darkness, Portal and Left For Dead (he played the zombies, of course) and even appeared in films such as forgettable Will Smith vehicle I Am Legend and oddball action film Bunraku. With all this in mind, it should explain why we just had to ask Patton for a FACT mix. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that the mix is a mad as a box of spanners, kicking off with the theme from South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s Team America: World Police and ending on a classic cut from Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party. Patton calls this selection an “insomnia playlist” – too much ‘Caffeine’, maybe?
Riz La Teef is hard to miss – you can spot him lugging a bag of whitelabels and dubplates to the dance when everyone else is wandering in with USB stick and a pair of headphones. Along with a few other London selectors (Spooky and Parris, for example), Riz La Teef is a wax holdout. If something’s not released on vinyl – no problem, he can head down to Music House and cut an acetate. It’s an expensive passion, sure, but whoever said love was free? The fact is, Riz La Teef is keeping the soul of dance music alive at a time when perfection – and the dreaded sync button – threatens to flush it all out the emergency exit. On his debut FACT mix, he blends a wide range of grime and garage-influenced sounds, ranging from Wiley’s OG sounds (‘Igloo’ makes an appearance) and a classic Horsepower Productions rework of DJ Zinc’s ‘Flim’ to more recent bangers from Strict Face (including his ace rework of Rihanna’s ‘Sex With Me’), Murlo and Fallow.
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.