Ken Downie, Ed Handley and Andy Turner were mates back in the day, digging into b-boy stuff as it came into England, mixing in sounds from Chicago and Detroit, acid and techno, and making it their own. They released three EPs on their own, and joined Warp Records in 1993 with the iconic album, Bytes, which already showed a fractured nature to the group, with eight different entities attributed for the album and individual tracks, but they wouldn't formally fracture for a few more years. Ken Downie kept The Black Dog, which he named in part for his battle with depression, while Ed and Andy became Plaid. With Plaid's newest album, The Digging Remedy, each now with 11 albums to their names. Read on for more history and tunes. [more inside]
Felix Manuel, better known as Djrum (pronounced as "drum," evolved from his initial DJ Rum handle) blends hip hop, house, jungle and bass seamlessly in his mixes, plus splices the DNA of techno, dubstep, garage and grime in an attempt to make them, in his words, “live inside each other” in his own productions. This blending is not frenetic, but slow and methodical, often including extended clips from movies, such as heard in The Miracle. With a relatively scant 9 EPs and singles, including two splits, and one album to his name, you can get hear more of the scope of Felix Manuel's musical tastes from his mixes... [more inside]
Since he started Akkord (s/t album playlist) with Synkro, Liam Blackburn has been in search of a sound. His last few solo releases skirted past drum & bass through to techno, ambient, IDM and, with 2013's excellent Storm, some sort of ultra-hi-tech jungle.... [H]e's re-emerging as Ancestral Voices on the increasingly out-there label Samurai Horo....The debut album for Blackburn's new alias is "yawning chords, complex drum patterns and existential dread," directly inspired by his mind-expanding, life-altering experiences on Machu Picchu and in the Amazon, and you can hear all of Night Of Visions on Bandcamp.
Stakker Humanoid - How 25 years ago Future Sound of London brought Acid House to the mainstream.
Muslimgauze was the sound of an angry Middle East, a prolific source of music dark, spacious and smothering. Tension was a constant theme not only in the music but in the packaging. (For example, Betrayal shows the hands of Yassir Arafat and Yitzak Rabin, and guns, knives, and news photos of an Arab world at war were a common motif in titles and sleeve art.) However, the music wasn't the usual agitprop fare: Music meant to rile a public to a cause isn't normally pigeonholed as ambient, electronica or musique concrete. But the band, hidden from public view, was rumored to donate proceeds to Palestinian terrorists, and that they were eventually silenced by Mossad. Despite the prodigious output -- issuing almost a hundred EPs and albums between 1983 and 1998, over a hundred more since -- limited distribution and perpetual obscurity ensured the rumors were easier to find than the music. While the facts about Muslimgauze have little in common with the fictions, they are, if anything, stranger... [more inside]
The Orb, known as one of the principal architects of ambient house, have receded into relative obscurity since the popular heyday of the electronic music movement in the US. Despite changes in the lineup - the group now consists of a duo featuring founding member Dr (Duncan Robert) Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann. Paterson's DJ sets are the stuff of legend and I was pleased as punch that they've just put together a podcast (actually a 50.8mb .zip file containing an mp3) that's available through their minimal website.
Window Exchange, Snowflake Series. Ambient techno with nice imargy for your enjoyment.