Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Introducing: TEKLA (GetIntoThis)

You get the feeling that for most producers, the concept of genre and the categorisation that comes with it is something to be snarled at, not celebrated. It’s why you could comprise a Psychology dissertation out of the millions of Soundcloud tags, or why you could write a novel using only words from the Beatport genre section. Liverpool DJ and producer Tekla has referred to himself as a HXUSE producer, a label that presumably signifies that this might be house music, but not necessarily as we know it.

Marvin’s Basement, the new EP from Tekla was released on London’s Houseology label last Monday, giving us the first chance to experience the enigmatic producer within the boundaries of a considered and contextualized body of work. And despite the seemingly out-of-nowhere nature of its conception, it would be selling it short to deem Marvin’s Basement as anything but a fully realised EP release. It builds on a classically minded house groove with small, but impeccably executed sonic tics. Detached vocal samples punctuate throughout, teasing at this kind of infectious, all out release without overselling it. House Music has always moved forward slower than other sub-cultures of Dance Music, infusing the idea of retro and classic with the notion that you can wear your influences on your sleeve without having to hide behind them. Marvin’s Basement is an exciting and professional realization of this, introducing Tekla as one of the most intriguing producers this city has seen for some time.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Live Review: Circus, with Green Velvet, Dixon and Tom Trago

Tom Trago
Cirucs, East Village Arts Club

26th July 2014

Tonight’s lineup for the latest installment if Yousef’s CIRCUS is enormous. Innervisions boss DIXON makes his first appearance in Liverpool since topping Resident Advisor’s much lauded DJ Of The Year poll in 2013, and GREEN VELVET, the man behind the behemoth that is Bigger Than Prince, completes a knockout one two of headliners. Dutch future house champion TOM TRAGO and One Records honcho SUB-ANN aren’t to be snarled at either, with Yousef and his team flexing their clout as the most forward thinking and balanced bookers in town.   

The redevelopment of The East Village Arts Club is still a polarizing topic among Liverpool’s clubnight crowd, with arguments that the shiny new walls and crowded, expensive bars detracts from that gritty, DIY aesthetic that once made it great. With its enormous stage and concave, forward facing dance floor though, it feels purpose built for nights like this. It certainly marks a contrast to the increasingly dominant warehouse scene, where its easy to spend your whole evening getting fucked up, trying to get off with a bird, or just generally ruining your chances of getting that American Visa without ever knowing who the person behind the decks is. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing of course, but there is something immeasurably powerful about a room full of people dancing towards the same beat, the same purpose, as the sounds permeating from the speakers create a tangible sense of being part of something bigger than yourself.

Tom Trago is an icon among his house-leaning Dutch motherland and like his recorded output to date; rhythm is central to his set tonight, concealing more immediate dancefloor anthems inside beats almost overwrought with intensity. The top-shelf productions of his own Use Me Again and Steppin’ Out and their instantaneous euphoria are usurped in favour of a deeper sound that looks to slowly nudge its audience towards that level of sonic bliss.

DIXON steps in after an obligatory cool-set-bro hug with Trago, with a slow burning, progressive leaning set more akin to the likes of Digweed, rather than fellow Berliner Ben Klock and his Panorama Bar contemporaries. Holding back on the kickdrums and those widescreen, techno downpours, Dixon instead offers slow, gentle swells of gratification in a way that builds and builds but never quite releases. This exercise in restraint clearly has one eye on the clock, which with over two hours remaining is evidence of a DJ with an appreciation for the bigger picture of the clubnight experience in its entirety, rather than the short window of his own set. There is a reason he was named the best DJ in the world just several months ago, it’s a testament to his own versatility that if he was on last tonight we would likely be treated to something almost entirely different.

The eccentric Green Velvet approaches bearing a fittingly green Mohawk, smiling serenely behind his spherical glasses as if he has just stepped into a wedding reception. Employing his trademark, snarled vocals over the likes of Lazer Beams, Flash and the aforementioned Bigger Than Prince, he provides those moments of rapture the rest of the evening had been teasing at throughout a blistering two hour performance. It seems staggering that these songs came out in the mid 90s, sounding every bit like electronic music does in 2014 and holding their own alongside the likes Paul Woolford’s Erotic Discourse as if we are listening to one of those end of year podcasts. It’s telling that a recent Hot Since 82 remix has brought Bigger Than Prince back into a new generation of listeners so seamlessly, as Green Velvet proves that as timeless as he is as a producer, he can absolutely keep up with the relentless forward momentum of electronic music and maintain his position as a truly world class DJ.  

Mike Townsend

Friday, 1 August 2014

Introducing: V E E D (GetIntoThis)


Small town mentality is something that has always lent itself well to electronic music. I mean, from someone who attempted to teach himself Pro Tools with the almost complete and almost absolute failure, you don’t get good at that sort of thing without shutting yourself away in your bedroom, practicing and learning until you’ve forgotten how to speak to humans. And where better to hide yourself away from the world than the small, vapid town that you’ve always hated and that has never understood you anyway. No disrespect to Southport of course, the home of production project V E E D, I’ve actually never been. But UK electronic music has always thrived from having the sounds and claustrophobia of urban and small town living permeating through it. 

Sleep Shape, released half a year ago via Liverpool’s versatile La Montagne Records, builds on the much-maligned sub-genre Witch House with funeral synths smothering a moody, slow moving baseline. Goodbye Cool World, which is available for free download on his Soundcloud, sees V E E D operating in warmer territories, lacking the conviction of Sleep Shape but drawing from a much wider range of ideas so that it sounds much less austere, and much more adventurous. It proudly presents itself as incomplete but not unfinished, as the beat almost suspends in midair to leave just enough space for the finer components to breathe. Ody and 10 Kick, two more new tracks, are equally as restrained, as rhythms and textures slip out of line with each other in a way that invites you in, but never allows you to settle. V E E D’s brief body of work so far is certainly scattered, and with each song you can hear him discovering and fine-tuning new ways of expressing what electronic music means to him. At the moment though, V E E D is slowly taking aim at that niche, scene-summarizing statement that will eventually form a debut release, picking away at his influences until it all eventually comes into focus.

Mike Townsend