I’ll tell you what, sometimes it’s hard maintaining a level of professional enthusiasm every month for a load of records that, with the odd exception, basically sound the same. (The exception right now by the way is the insane new Ceephax acid jamboree “Hardcore Wick” / “Acid Varsity Special” single on the Belgian label First Cask, a dazzling return that must be heard to be believed.) Maybe I’ve spent too much time in clubs over the years and the novelty’s worn off. Or perhaps my taste has been refined to the point where I’m now opposed to anything that doesn’t fit what you could call “my agenda”. These days I find the idea of hanging out in smoky places sipping stupidly expensive drinks, talking rubbish and listening to some DJ play all the records I’ve got at home pretty repellent and pointless. It’s bad for your health, that’s obvious. I hate it when my clothes stink of cigarettes and booze. I can’t stand people reeking of pub and sitting down next to you or brushing past you. The smoking ban can’t come quick enough. Actually, the worst kind of antisocial behaviour is when you’re on the dancefloor and it’s going well and then the guy with his top off and the stringy dreadlocks (there’s always one no matter what kind of rave you’re at) starts flailing his head everywhere and his filthy braids whip your cheek like a salt-enrusted cat o’ nine tails. Unless it’s to do with religion, everyone with dreadlocks should get ASBOs to prevent this situation ever occuring. Then there’s the guy—and it’s always a guy—who honks of BO, his shirt and skin are stained with his revolting scent, and he bumps into you, accidentally rubs against you, and now your clothes stink of his body odour and your night is ruined. He’s totally oblivious to his stench, just as the dreadlocked warrior has no idea he’s whipping people around him.
One guy who’s spent more than half his life in and out of nightclubs is Italo icon Alexander Robotnick, AKA Maurizio Dami, who today trades on his past DJing well-received laptop sets. In the mid-80s he produced incredible tracks such as “Problemes D’Amour”, “Hesitation” by Mya & The Mirror and Naïf Orchestra’s “Check Out Five”, one of the first disco numbers to compare shopping to church with the line, “Supermarkets they be open on Sundays / People walk round them like they be avenues”. Now Dutch label Crème Organization has unearthed a stack of rare Robotnick tracks on the
double-LP. As with most archive trawls, there are a handful of skippable analogue sketches but at least two sides here brim with magical synth-pop and elegant electro-noir. Why “Intro For Live Performance” and “Made In China” have remained pretty much unheard until now is a mystery. Robotnick even alludes to his old battle with the brown by calling one mood piece “Dark Side Of The Spoon”, a title industrial rockers Ministry would use years later for a compilation.
To be honest, I’d never heard of In Sync until last week when the guys at Black Hole distribution in Glasgow sent his astonishing new untitled EP, four mesmeric analogue excursions spread across two slabs of vinyl, one red, the other orange. Described by those who know as one of the UK techno underground’s pivotal figures—he co-founded the Fat Cat record shop and released on Irdial and Peacefrog back in’t day—this is Lee Purkis’ first outing in ages and will appeal to fans of synth-prog soundtrack masters such as Goblin and John Carpenter. Punctuated sporadically with snare rolls and claps, these gurgling doomsday symphonies—“Dune”, “Sahara”, “Mirage” and “Sands Of Time”: do you sense a theme?—sound refreshingly raw and uneven, like little else around at the moment.
Equally strange and addictive is the latest seven-inch by shadowy London duo Various Production. The double A-side “Sir” / “In This”, out on their own Various Production label complete with another beautiful sleeve, could be dubstep cocooned in velvet, a smouldering avant-pop classic. “Sir” in particular, like their earlier “Hater” and “Foller” singles, seems to teeter on the brink of collapse, held together by someone who can actually sing. An album’s due in the summer, by when they’ll almost certainly have inked a deal with a major indie. Monitor their site: various.co.uk.
It’s generally wise to ignore DJ mix CDs but, like a pulsating beacon in an ocean of shit, Border Community boss James Holden’s two-disc trip
At The Controls
, on Resist, bucks the trend majestically. This longhaired 26-year-old Oxford maths graduate is one of the world’s most imaginative DJs and this mix, composed using snazzy customised digital plug-ins but still nicely sloppy in places, is mindbendingly good, especially if you’re into alien electronic disco and fizzing synthetic rushes. Dissolving Kate Wax into Death In Vegas, Water Lilly into Trans Am and many others, Holden has excellent taste, making this one of those rare DJ mixes that compels you to hunt down each track for yourself to enjoy it in full.
While Holden DJs with CDs, clubs are increasingly accommodating DJs who play using iPods. Apple have cottoned on to this trend with the announcement last month at the computer giant’s annual expo in San Francisco that later this year they’re to introduce special iPodiums for DJs and clubbers alike. London clubs Fabric and The End have reportedly placed orders for these versatile large white cubes that the company claims can dramatically enhance the raving experience. Details about these multi-functional devices are a closely guarded secret. It’s fair to say, however, that the iPodium will revolutionise nightlife just as the iPod has the way we listen to music.