Beyond The Wizards
If you love spending money you haven’t got on incredibly cool and expensive psychedelic disco records that you’ll play maybe four or five times before filing them away, then New York’s just-so Whatever We Want deserves to be your new favourite label. Run by a well-connected guy named Carlos, Whatever We Want is basically the unofficial HQ of the international “beer and beards” disco clique that’s slowly wrapping its big hairy paws around “quality” dance music like some loveable, half-cut disco bear oddly reminiscent of George the Hofmeister lager dude from the 80s. They already put out that great Map Of Africa record earlier last year (Map Of Africa is the smack-rock project of DJ Harvey (AKA, in certain circles, God) and Thomas of ARE Weapons and, I think, Rub’N’Tug “fame”) and recently released a handful of new singles that are hard not to love, especially if you’ve just shelled out £7.99 for a seven-inch and £9.99 for a two-track 12-inch. Apparently they cost so much because they’re imported from New York, but those prices still seem pretty steep. In any case, there are enough freaks out there to snap them up in a matter of days which means by the time Vice is printed the latest Quiet Village Project 12-inch, “Drax”/“Too High To Move”, could be long sold out. Now that would be a shame because the more people who hear these two smoochy Balearic orchestral numbers (played at 33rpm, “Too High Too Move” could be Barry White on ketamine), the better. Quiet Village is two guys based in Brighton called Zeus & Maxxi; Maxxi is Matt Edwards who records as Rekid and was once part of Radio Slave (or still is or something) and Zeus is a some-time record-dealer named Joel Martin who knows more about disco than possibly anyone else alive. Whenever he DJs, Zeus tends to burn all his ridiculously obscure and rare vinyl on to CD so that no-one can see what records he’s spinning. Not that he’s paranoid or anything… but then again, the clubs he plays in are mostly attended by trainspotters who flock around the decks each time a record they don’t know airs.
The one Whatever We Want single that makes you wonder, “Hmm, is this any good are they taking the piss?”, is Otterman Empire’s tame re-edits of The Doors’ turgid “The Wasp (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)” and “Private Investigations” by Dire Straits. “Private Land”, as it’s renamed, only has cachet when you’ve had a couple of lines and feel like punching the air to something epic and slightly melancholy but that Doors track is totally unfixable, like all Jim Morrison’s pompous output. Happily, Bobbie Marie’s “Rodeo”/“Stay Away” marvellous seven-inch blues explosion curls its lip like prime-period Suicide, sneering, urgent and breathless. Check the label’s site, whateverwewantrecords.com, but last time we looked it was still under construction. Another limited-edition psychedelic delight comes in the form of a pink-vinyl 12-inch by Beyond The Wizards Sleeve (sic.) out on new label 3rd Mynd. BTWS is none other than Trash supremo and popular DJ and remixer Erol Alkan and Richard Norris (formerly of The Grid, who did that “Swamp Thing” track about ten years ago), two music nuts who once or twice a year DJ their favourite psych-rock tracks together for ten hours in the Catch bar on Kingsland Road in Shoreditch, their night where the BTWS name originated. Here they’ve tweaked and extended and generally added a few whoosing noises to five overlooked beat-pop nuggets, the most familiar of which is The Monkees’ “Dig It”, extracted from the band’s classic Head film, though “Aglarsa Anam Aglar” by late-60s Turkish outfit Three Hurel is a real treat. The whole BTWS vibe is like that party scene in
where free love flows and everything’s edgy and blurry at the same time.
Somehow, all of that sounds like child’s play compared to Ricardo Villalobos’ latest offering,
, a gatefold double-pack for Luciano’s Cadenza label. His first major release for 12 months,
ripples and stumbles sinuously across four sides, heavily percussive and softly, deliriously funky, like nothing else around—or perhaps a lucid continuation of where Can at their peak left off. It seems misleading—or cruel—to include the track times (each one ends around the 12th minute) as time often feels stretched, serenely mangled and distorted, when Villalobos is in control. Speaking of which, the Chilean appeared to be so refreshed at a recent Fabric afterparty that when it came to his turn to DJ, he popped a CD onto the turntable and took a while to work out why things weren’t functioning properly.
An excellent night out just before Christmas was Vitalic’s live demolition of the tiny Nag Nag Nag sweatbox in London where Pascal Arbez capped his fine year with a totally new set that included a few unreleased tracks—one in particular, “Voyage”, was so brutally emotional even Boy George looked to be sobbing. For an encore he played an mp3 of a demo of a haunting new Linda Lamb / Mount Sims track, “Roses”, that had everyone shaking their heads in amazement, singing along to words they didn’t even know. That night we were given the debut John Lord Fonda album, Debaser, out on Vitalic’s Citizen label, a record that’s driven the French media crazy with excitement. A fellow Frenchman, JLF has a similar sound and style to Vitalic, rigid yet gracefully melodic, and on tracks like “Erase My Anger” and “So Far Away” has those joyous “Poney”-like champagne-spurting moments of his own. At the risk of sounding like
magazine, if you liked
, you’ll love Debaser.