It’s always a treat to hear Aphex Twin DJ, especially in unusual places. He never disappoints. Last month Vice enjoyed watching him thoroughly rinse this packed alpine bar in the Austrian ski resort of Mayerhofen, where the annual Snowbombing festival happpened (“Piste by day, beats by night” is their slogan). We were invited to attend for the weekend and it was a blast. People like Mylo, who looked bored out of his skull performing that same old set, and the Cuban Brothers played, who I’ve never really got into, and the place was packed with British snowboarders and those cokey dance music biz types one hopes to avoid at summer festivals. Aside from AFX, the highlight was learning that skiing is a total joy, even if you’ve not been since 1987 (so thank you Burton for lending Vice all that amazing ski gear, plug plug, and Von Zipper for those mirrored goggles that made the wearer resemble a Daft Punk robot). I’ve not kept up with Richard James’ spate of “Analord” singles (the eighth of 11 is out soon on Rephlex) so hearing him spin so many new tracks which tweaked you in all the strangest places really hit the spot.
He plays again on June 2nd in London at Russell Haswell’s Easy To Swallow one-day All Tomorrow’s Parties extreme rave at the SEOne club in London Bridge, which’ll certainly bring out the freaks. The other main attraction here is the original line-up of post-punk electro-dub pioneers Mark Stewart & The Maffia—the Maffia features such legends as Keith Le Blanc, Skip Macdonald and Doug Wimbush, who were basically The Sugarhill Gang back in the day and recorded classics like “White Lines” and “Rapper’s Delight”. There’s also a top Mark Stewart anthology titled Kiss The Future out now on Soul Jazz. Noise scientists Yasunao Tone and Hecker and many more TBA perform too, all for £15 (from seetickets.com). Easy To Swallow is a serial event, however, so in future expect to be able to catch Haswell faves like Impaled Nazarene, Whitehouse, Elton John and Corrupted. Anything could happen.
TBA is also the artist name used by Tusia Beridze, this 25-year-old electronics producer and singer from Tblisi in Georgia. Her second album, Annulé, out this month on Thomas Brinkmann’s Max Ernst label, is a beautifully poised blend of the political and personal, the kind of record that seduces you from the start and leaves you spinning. Maybe it’s because Beridze’s from somewhere that still seems quite alien and romantic, but she conjures a magical, melancholic atmosphere that’s hard to resist. One or two tracks sound like dramatic Shostakovich pieces (which she wrote for her grandma, “Beba”, though they’re too fast for her to play), one uses Russian TV reportage of the Beslan massacre as bedding, others embrace the minimal techno style. Most thrilling of all is her intuitive grasp of melody, supple and sly, that lace more conventional songs “Sleepwalkers”, “Smashed” and “Nevermind”. There’s plenty going on on Annulé’s 22 tracks but it never feels forced or unnatural; it sounds foreign but hauntingly familiar.
What about that website ubercoolische.com—have you checked it yet? It’s genius. I won’t say anything since it’s self-explanatory. Other stuff well worth investigating is this album, Out Of Tune, by a guy from Cologne called Alexander Geiger, and the second LP from Isolée, We Are Monster, on Playhouse. Geiger’s this Hendrix-obsessed hippy who fell in love with techno in the 90s. On Out Of Tune (Firm) he dissolves a heap of styles like folk, funk and disco into the kind of lucid mish-mash of an LP that Tom Vek might hope to produce one day. For a German, it’s remarkably funny and fresh, psychedelic even. The Isolée LP, Rajko Mueller’s first since Rest and that exquisite “Beau Mot Plage” track, is a tastefully wobbly trip that in places you feel could be crazier; some tracks bubble by inoffensively like Tiefschwarz, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. All these people need to get out of clubs and go to more rock gigs and freak out. Mueller’s a master producer and We Are Monster is his most disco work so far—“Schrapnell” and “My Hi-Matic” are guaranteed to raise goosebumps—and I can just picture hundreds of Euro ravers jiving to this deeply dippy record on Barcelona beach at sunset while Michael Mayer tries to keep a handle on things during Kompakt’s Sónar after-party.
Speaking of which, this year’s Sónar Festival happens on June 16-18 in Barcelona and if you’ve never been before then you’re missing out on one of the best parties around. This is the 12th edition and the line-up looks ridiculously healthy as usual, featuring M.I.A., LCD Soundsystem, Jeff Mills, the Minus crew, Mocky, the mighty Hot Chip, De La Soul, Battles, Goodiepal and stacks of others that you can read about at www.sonar.es (where you buy tickets and things like that). This year the dominant theme is the “voice”, meaning they’ve booked lots of acts who sing and play what sounds like rock music. Also, on May 26, there’s an amazing Sónar pre-party called A Taste Of Sónar at Fabric in London, sponsored by San Miguel, with three rooms of top music. Miss Kittin, Russell Haswell, MU, Duritti Column, Mental Overdrive and more perform. It runs from 9pm – 4am and costs £10 (call 0870 902 0001) or visit
. When you’re in Barcelona, make sure you come to Vice’s legendary post-Sónar knees-up on the Sunday: more details soon.