Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Steve Stoll - Hyperrealism Part 3 (Earwiggle)

Steve Stoll - Hyperrealism Part 3 ep (preview) by earwiggle

Artist: Steve Stoll
Title: Hyperrealism Part 3
Label: Earwiggle
Cat No: EAR002
Release date: December 5th, 2011

A1. Hyperrealism Part 3
B1. Machine Riot
B2. Stained

Steve Stoll is one of techno music's greats. Starting out originally as a drummer in industrial band Wax Trax, it was no coincidence that he later became one of the masters of drum heavy techno. Steve epitomised the raw minimal sound of '90s New York, through a near endless line of releases on labels including Trax Records, Novamute, Music Man, Djax-Up-Beats, Richie Hawtin's Probe, and of course his own aptly named Proper (which later spawned the 212 Productions imprint). He also formed collaborations with Damon Wild (as Voyager 8), Ken Ishii (as Kjoh Zon) and Pete Namlook (as Hemisphere).

Outside of producing techno and playing live sets, Steve has been busy working with Front 242's Patrick Codenys (a new Gaiden album is soon expected from the pair), writing loop packs for Ableton, designing his own synth modules and fx pedals… and that's just the half of it. He recently appeared on Detroit's ASRX, anchoring two fine 12"s, with this new release on Earwiggle being his first full solo 12" in over five years. Following on from Steve's famous saw shaped vinyl series that delivered 'Hyperrealism Parts 1 & 2' in 1995, Part 3 has now arrived, except this time on superior round shaped wax!

'Hyperrealism Part 3' marks a timely update of the harder New York techno sound. A grinding analogue bassline is tweaked to perfection throughout this monstrous peak-time track that once again displays Steve's sonic astuteness in making a seemingly minimal, straight ahead groove become something far more powerful and dynamic. One for big rooms and underground spaces everywhere.

'Machine Riot' is literally just that. It's a riotous machine led adventure, with a raucous lead (his vintage Buchla synth is all over this record) and extra sturdy 909s underplayed by subtle but effective, interchanging loops. A magical slice of strobe-lit, heads-down techno; you know things are kicking off in the place when this gets played.

'Stained' rounds off the ep in a more experimental vein. Reminiscent in part to Nine Inch Nails, this is a fine example of Steve's superlative sound design - mixing bit crushed broken drums with soaring choral atmospherics, to deadly effect. A stylish end to one of 2011's most proper techno records.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Smear dj set @ Earwiggle (25.2.11)

Strong armed British techno has enjoyed a resurgence over the last few years, and playing his part in that is Scottish dj/producer Smear. Also one half of the production duo Forward Strategy Group, Smear dj-ed for us in February of this year at The Underground @ Kennedy's, when he joined Perc as one of our esteemed international guests on the night. The recorded result of his set is exactly as we remembered - both beautiful and ugly, and nothing in between. Check it out.

Smear @ Earwiggle, Dublin (25.2.11) by earwiggle


Ho.exe - CWKN - Uncivilized World
Shapednoise - Dunkel - Unreleased
Skirt - Black Widow - Subsist
Jonas Kopp - M33 - Stroboscopic Artefacts
DJ Qu - Be Who You Want (Hardknock Shakers Dub) - Strength Music
Female - Serverlan - Sandwell District
Donor - Portal - Stroboscopic Artefacts
Shed - EQD 001 - EQD
Milton Bradley - Distorted Reality - Do Not Resist The Beat!
Andy Bowman - Yance - Gecko
Sp-X - Internalize - Komisch
Forward Strategy Group - Tayo Olowu - Perc Trax
Aphex Twin - Tha - Apollo
Surgeon - Klonk 3 - Dynamic Tension
Dj Qu - Party People Clap (Levon Vincent Mix) - Deconstruct
Cabaret Voltaire - No Escape - Rough Trade
Ugandan Methods - Mat Oput - Downwards
Diversion Group - I Understand (BMB Mix)
Fumiya Tanaka - For Set #1a - Torema
AFX - Isopropophlex - TVT
Peter Van Hoesen - Desay Duty - Komisch
Xex - Look At His Heartbeat - Glass
Friendship Connection - First/Abuse - Panam
Regis - Death Head Said - Downwards
Wire - Ambitious (Middlesex Gorge) - WMO
Sawf - Zelo - Perc Trax
(i)sodyne - Answer To No One - Broken 20
Perplex Barquettes - Snack Today - Bad Ming Tunes
Oni Ayhun - OAR 003 - OAR
Bernd Maus - Parallel - Gadgets
Samuli Kemppi - Massa (Peter Van Hoesen mix) - Komisch
Turner - Multiorgel (Schneider TM mix) - Ladomat
Forward Strategy Group - Elegant Mistakes - Perc Trax
Forward Strategy Group - Mandate - Perc Trax

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

anodyne - Destruction 808 (Earwiggle)

Artist: anodyne
Title: Destruction 808
Label: Earwiggle
Cat no: EAR001
Format: 12” Vinyl / Digital
Release date: April 18th 2011 (vinyl) / May 5th 2011 (digital)

Destruction by earwiggle
地獄 by earwiggle

Menace 808 by earwiggle
Talon by earwiggle


Fresh from a big 2010 that saw 'Corrosion' become many people's candidate for album of the year, and a follow up 12" with remixes from Autechre and The Black Dog that brought even greater attention to the project, the next job for anodyne (Colin Cloughley) is to now release what is bizarrely his debut solo 12".

While 'Corrosion' showed Colin's love for early Black Dog and Warp Records, this ep starts off with the more growling intent of 'Destruction' - a venomous techno/dubstep hybrid that brings together the rawest elements of both genres, that’ll no doubt tear many club rooms a new one. '地獄’is a straight hitting acid/hoover attack that descends into all sorts of chaos - reminiscent of the power of Polygon Window coupled with the madness of Spiral Tribe; this is a track that quickly brings things into disrepute.

On the b-side 'Menace 808' revisits the electro/breakbeat rave sound with all sorts of twists and turns that eventually drops into a pure unashamed hands in the air breakdown. One for the fields and festivals this summer? You know it is. Closing with the pacy, glitched up breaks of 'Talon', anodyne proves once again that when it comes to haunting yet majestically uplifting dancefloor music, there are few better in the game.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Perc Interview

One of the few producers around who can claim to be putting a fresh stamp on the techno genre is London producer and label owner Ali Wells aka Perc. A gradual shift into the depths of underground techno has led to his position as one of the very best in the game; a producer with a relentless work rate and mammoth discography to match. Ahead of his live appearance in Dublin this Friday, Ali took a few moments away from putting the final touches to his debut album to kindly answer some questions we put his way…

How long have you been producing, and what inspired you to start originally?

I started at the age of 16 and I bought my first drum machine (Roland TR626) the day I got my GSCE results, so it's been a while. At that age I had been in bands for a few years but was starting to realise that a group dynamic was not really for me. Electronic music was creeping into my life and the more I read about the DIY/home studio methods of producers the more I wanted to get involved.

You have released music on such a large amount of labels. With a lot of commitments to releases/remixes etc. do you have to limit the time you spend on each track?

No, by putting in long hours I can work on something until I am happy with it. When I rush, due to a deadline from myself or a label, then I am rarely happy with the results. I spend a lot of time in the studio, maybe 40-50 hours in an average week, some tracks and remixes come together in a few hours, whilst others have been tweaked on and off for up to a year. Every track is different but I know when one is ready to face the outside world.

You've taken an interesting route over the last number of years to where you are now. In a way you've done things in the opposite manner of many other producers, in that as you became more well-known and successful, your sound appeared to become (for want of a better phrase) more purist. Is this how you would describe your path?

Hmmm, I don't see myself as a purist. I have a knowledge of house, techno, rave, drum & bass etc going back a long way but I like to think I combine my influences rather than adhering to any of the existing templates of how techno should sound. There are people out there still serving up purist Millsian loops and Basic Channel dub-techno clones. It would bore me senseless to stick to one of these well worn formulas. A good example is my track 'Stoq' on Stroboscopic Artefacts; it pulls on dubstep, industrial and techno and (hopefully) creates something new. Maybe my sound has become more compatible with the established techno sounds of Berlin or Birmingham etc but I like to think I mix in enough unrelated elements to not be filed amongst the hardcore purists.

By shifting your sound, you may have risked alienating part of your existing fan base. Was that a concern to you at any stage?

I make music for myself first, if I am not feeling a track even if I think it has dance floor or sales potential then it will be scrapped. If I looked at my more successful tracks and churned out copies of those then I would be dead in the water in a matter of weeks. I have to be excited with what I make and I like to think people can hear that in my tracks. Whilst my sound and style does develop and shift there is still a clear Perc sound/aesthetic that has been about since day one. The spitting snares, the big kicks, the broken beat stuff, and the kinds of distortion I use. Some things are constant whatever I am making.

You have continued to release vinyl on Perc Trax, when a lot of people and labels around you moved primarily to digital. Can you give a background into how you first started collecting vinyl?

Strangely enough my first decks were cd decks; this was a long time ago when playing from cd was commonly seen as fake or cheating. Then when I got my first paid gig I rushed out and bought a pair of 1210's, giving me a month to learn how to play vinyl. My first purchases were looped up tribal and acid techno, which I found quite easy to mix and my collection has grown since then. Perc Trax carries on to do vinyl for a number of reasons, but if the day came when releasing vinyl was losing serious money then I'd have no problem stopping the 12's rather than risk the label as a whole. I love vinyl but I can see a vinyl-less future for techno at some point.

Can vinyl survive? Will younger djs somehow embrace it or are we looking at a future dj culture that will bear no resemblance to the original model?

It will survive for a number of years but I don't think it will be around forever. Younger djs are embracing it but I am not sure they are enough in number to replace people dropping out of the vinyl market. I laugh when I see a facebook post about a release that is coming out on vinyl and digitally, almost every comment is 'vinyl for me!' when most people posting will grab the release free from a blog and not even pay for the download. A lot of the 'vinyl forever' stuff is purely show, people trying to look like the real deal when they get most of their music for free from unauthorised sources.

Much of your recent material is industrial influenced. Is this the last area left in techno to truly experiment?

I think there has been an industrial element in techno since the very beginning. Even the old '88 acid tracks created with a drum machine and 303 shared an atonality that a lot of industrial music thrives on. I think it is an interesting area that still has space for innovation and exploration, certainly within the grey area where techno, industrial, drone and noise music meet. I think for the more forward thinking producers techno is just a vehicle to carry their experimental sounds to a wider audience via the established system of djs and dancefloors. Of course Techno has other areas to move into apart from the industrial thing, some of which will be blind alleys whilst others will open up whole new worlds of possibilities. Going back to what I said earlier about the established templates that a lot of techno follows, it would be a shame if what was once seen as future music becomes too focussed on replicating past glories.

Industrial is also a style of music that could claim to have been a type of active techno before 'techno' the term was first coined in Detroit. Would you agree?

Yes, it was/is machine music, focussed on texture and rhythm over melody and lyrical content. Whilst industrial music has always featured vocals, they are often treated as another instrument, equal to machine generated sounds and that is the same with all but the most commercially driven techno. Without studying old Mills/Wizard playlists I am sure industrial music was as much an influence on the early Detroit producers as Kraftwerk. Not just through the choices of sound used but also due to a shared approach to music-making and the (mis-)use of discarded machinery.

Is techno as an experimental art form, sometimes weighed down by the now defined sounds of influential cities like Berlin and Detroit, or is it important that techno has reference points like this?

The reference points are important, to use a cliché, it is just as important to know where you are from as where you are going, but people get too bogged down in these cities and their history. Techno has often been at is most innovative away from these major hubs. Perc Trax's Sawf is based in Athens, which has a tiny techno scene and his range of influences are truly his own, not those dictated by a select group of hyped clubs and record shops. People should remember that moving to one of these cities does not instantly make you a better DJ or producer. Often with the amount of competing creative types in the city such as Berlin your chances of making a name for yourself are reduced.

It's argued that the innovators of today are not the producers but the people developing forward thinking software and equipment for producers. What do you think about that, and how has technology helped you over the last five years for instance?

The software developers and hardware companies have a part to play but talented people will always find ways to adapt and use a piece of gear beyond what the designs intended. It is easier than ever to make functional dance music that will 'work' on most dancefloors. This does not mean you should be making it or that it has any lasting value. Using preset sounds and samples is an easy way to get a few digital releases but without some innovation and thought you will not go much further than that. Technology has helped me a lot, the switch from a fully hardware based studio to Ableton interfacing with a few choice pieces of kit gives me a flexibility that I could not have imagined before. For remixing the ability to creatively and accurately edit audio visually has been a massive change for me, so much better than staring at the screens of samplers and grooveboxes.

Your debut album is about to be released. For someone with your prolific output, it seems like an album could have come a long time ago. Presumably you were holding out to do something a bit more conceptual then, that is not just a collection of 12" club tracks?

I think the change in my sound has meant that an album is more viable for me than it was 3 or 4 years ago and now my drone/ambient tracks are getting good responses when before they were often overlooked in favour of my club tracks. One thing that really bugs me is when a producer waters down their sound to make an album more suitable for home listening. If people want an album to soundtrack their dinner parties then they will go for one from a producer with pedigree in that field, not a techno producer suddenly softening their sound. For me the classic techno albums are exactly that. Planetary Assault Systems on Peacefrog, the classic Joey Beltram albums on Tresor and Novamute, Vaporspace's debut on Plus8 etc. Yes, there are some drone/experimental tracks on my album but they are far from easy listening. If anything they present more of a challenge to the listener than the dancefloor tracks as the sounds don't have the tried and tested framework of a club track to cling on to.

What else can you tell us about the album?

Not a great deal right now. Roughly 10 tracks, more broken beat than 4/4. It is not a concept album but the title (to be revealed soon) focussed on two elements which run through all of the tracks. There will be one 12” released before the album and one after. The remixes for the first single are done and I'm blown away by who has remixed my tracks and what they have done with them. I know it is all very secretive at the moment but I don't want to say too much until the album is finished.

How important was it for you to release it on your own label? Did it bring an extra creative freedom that you might not have been afforded elsewhere?

For an EP I am happy to send 3 or 4 tracks to a label and if they only want two of them then that is fine, but for an album I need 100% control. To submit an album to a label which they then start picking apart would kill my passion for the album dead.

Finally, what's on the horizon for the rest of 2011?

The first half of 2011 is focussed on finishing and promoting the album. Aside from that a new collaboration between myself and an Italian producer is about to surface. The first fruits of that new project will be out at the end of March. Details of that will be made public very soon. Perc Trax has a full release schedule with albums from myself and Sawf plus EPs from Forward Strategy Group, Donor/Truss, Dead Sound & Videohead and Samuli Kemppi. From June or July onwards I have no real idea, a few festival appearances are confirmed and I guess I'll start recording tracks for some other labels once the album is in the can. I don't really know and that is what makes it exciting for me.

Perc on Discogs.com
Perc on Facebook
Perc Trax homepage

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Perc (live) + Smear in Dublin - Friday 25.2.11

This February we shift from old skool to nu-skool, for our return to The Underground at Kennedy’s. It features two of our favourite techno producers of the moment, headed by English extraordinaire Perc, and ably assisted by Glasgow and Leeds’ finest Smear!

Building up releases on labels like Drumcode, CLR, Kompakt and Ovum, is an impressive feat, but still doesn’t fully identify Ali Wells' standing in the techno world. Over the last few years particularly, Perc has entered grittier and more experimental territory than his peers, treading some old paths but discovering many new routes. Last year’s ‘BCG’ track on his ever-industrious Perc Trax label, perfectly emphasised modern techno’s best bits – stark industrial atmosphere, cavernous dub backbone and added live sequences, demonstrating the type of invention often lacking in the genre today. With forthcoming releases on the likes of Sonic Groove, and a debut album on Perc Trax also ready to drop, we couldn’t think of a better time to have Perc come and play live in Dublin.

Before even hearing music by an artist called ‘Smear’, it seems safe to assume that he/she/it isn’t making funky house. With a steady stream of releases that goes back five years, Smear’s brutal yet atmospheric take on techno first came to most prominence via his involvement as one half of Forward Strategy Group (who incidentally have a new 12" on Perc Trax at the end of February). Further appearances on labels like Zooloft, MNX and Singularity, have made the Scottish man’s intentions clearly known. Without much fuss or showboating, Smear has earned many followers, not least through his killer dj sets at Leeds’ flagship techno night ‘Detached’.

Also appearing on the night is Giles Armstrong. As the brains behind ‘Electric City’ – one of the few groundbreaking Irish club nights of recent years - Giles has also played his part as one of the country's most relevant djs, with his services being in constant demand over the last ten years. Recently invigorated by the advancement in digital dj-ing technology, Giles has ditched his 1210s for a pair of Fader Foxes and Traktor, and unlike many DJs who made this type of move, Giles is most definitely on an upward trajectory. Get in early to catch the big man play a big set.


Friday February 25th
The Underground @ Kennedy's, Westland Row, Dublin 2

Perc - Live (Perc Trax - London)
Smear (Forward Strategy Group - Glasgow)
Giles Armstrong (Electric City - Dublin)

Doors: 10.30pm
Admission: €10 before midnight / €12 after

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Selected CJ Bolland / Frank De Wulf classics

CJ Bolland

Frank De Wulf

CJ Bolland Interview

CJ Bolland is a name everyone knows, but from where their introduction came could be a whole bunch of different places. Back when underground classics like ‘Horsepower’ were leading the charge on MTV ad breaks, through to chart hits like ‘Sugar Is Sweeter’ and club anthems like ‘The Prophet’ raising his profile even further, CJ's run throughout the nineties was a rollercoaster of success. These days CJ is as busy as ever, involving himself in other projects outside of dance music, but still finding time to make it out and rock clubs like he always has. Ahead of his gig in Dublin this Friday, he took some time to answer a few questions for us...

So, how are things CJ? What's your routine nowadays, still spending most of your days in the studio?  

Spending all days in the studio at the moment. I'm currently working with Belgian band dEUS on their new album "Keep you close". We're in the final stages of production which is exciting. I'm also collaborating with UK drum & bass duo 'Total Science'. Interesting to see how that will pan out. Then I'm gonna write some more techno (yeah really) and finish my new 'Magnus' album (my electropop collab with Tom Barman). 

Can you trace a particular point in your career, where you felt a greater desire to work more outside of dance music?   

There was no specific point in time, I just like broadening the spectrum whenever and however I can. I met some interesting people over the years from all genres and that mélange of flavours has kept me from stagnating.

A recent Slices documentary filmed you working in the studio with Jade 4 U. Will this be an ongoing working relationship?

It was fun to bump into Jade again and we certainly had a laugh in the studio. There aren't any immediate plans due to both our schedules but you never know.
It could be argued that there is (other than in trance) a distinct lack of lead female vocals in dance music today. Why is this in your opinion?

Most song based dance stuff is too cheesy to even discuss but there are always exceptions of course. Techno (as opposed to pop and rock) is about getting the most out of as few ingredients possible. One big cleverly engineered noise used to its full potential can release all the emotion a poetic lyric or a beautiful melody can. That's why most great techno is instrumental or at most has a little parlando hook.

How do you feel about R&S's relaunch and current stream of releases?

I haven't been paying that much attention to them at the moment as I'm full on in production but one thing that caught my eye was the new Model 500 release featuring Mike Banks, that was awesome. 

R&S was well known for the quality of its in-house engineers and it is often unclear how much creative involvement some may have had in some of the records that went through the label’s studio. Can you give some insight into this?

R&S had an elaborate studio that you couldn't just walk in to and start tweaking. Marcos Salon, Cisco Fereirra, Robert Leiner, Per Martinsen and myself all spent a lot of time there so we knew the gear well. Nearly all other projects that were recorded in-house were engineered by one of us and our personal tastes and influences are very present.

How do you feel yours and others’ achievements have been recognised in Belgium itself? Have the media given you your full props over the years?

Ironically, at the time I felt my career was happening abroad and I got very little attention back home. Now, most Belgian media refer to my techno years in the superlative form without really knowing what it was all about. 

When you finally got away from FFRR, you set up Mole Records. Which was the bigger challenge for you: working for a major label that had specific requirements, or running your own self-funded/directed label?

I like working with labels, majors and independents alike because they get things moving and give me the freedom to concentrate on the music. However when a label exerts creative control they become more of a burden than a help. So was the case with FFRR so I left and decided to run my own label. That wasn't the solution for me either though as I spent most of my time doing paperwork and answering emails and telephone calls and found there was no time left to write.

You always stood out in the techno scene for your willingness to embrace other emerging genres. Are there any more recently created genres or musical developments that excite you?

I'm open to anything that's got intent and character. There are way too many amateurs trying to make a quick buck milking the same elements over and over as a result any big tune soon becomes a so called new style and then overkill ruins it rapidly, but I still get an overwhelming sense of elation when I find that 1 big classy tune.

Doing more old skool sets these days, have you found yourself rediscovering many tunes that you had maybe left behind in the nineties?

Not rediscovering as I've always kept all my favourite music close by but getting to play them again and seeing crowds enjoy them is certainly fun.
When was the last time you played with Frank De Wulf?
That I quite honestly can't remember. Think it was back in the fifties :)
You've been coming to Ireland for many years. Do you remember your first gig here, and what one (s) stands out the most?

I can never remember the names of venues, I just remember all the fun people I've met in Ireland over the years and euhm, Guinness.

CJ Bolland Website
CJ Bolland on Discogs.com
CJ Bolland on Wikipedia