Escaping nightmarish reality, Getintothis’ Martin Guttridge-Hewitt tracks down the finest dance nights out in the Northwest – plus win tickets to Hardfloor at Williamson Tunnels.
Sometimes it’s difficult to think of reasons to be cheerful.
In the last week alone we’ve had the BBC reporting anti-austerity marches in London as being attended by ‘thousands’, when in reality the figure was estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. The UN declared 2015 as The Year of the Humanitarian Crisis, with more displaced people on the planet than at any point in history, and a Greece already on its knees agreed to some €8 billion in further economic cutbacks to appease representatives of a global economic model that does not, has not, and will never serve the common good.
Still, at least there’s that video of a cat taking a flight on a microlight to act as a counterbalance.
At moments like this you have to wonder whether house, techno and fast noises are really worth talking about. If we could skip back a few decades then the answer would be a resounding ‘yes’, given such sounds represented the voice of a silent counter culture.
Uninterested in Thatcherite selfishness and keen to break down the class divisions at the heart of British society, all through the wide-eyed dilated pupils of a dove, reacting to the woeful racial inequalities that have plagued the U.S. since before its constitution was drawn up, and hopeful at the promise of a new unified Europe following the fall of the Berlin Wall, electronic music was once everything we need right now. Motivation to change for the better, born out of love and understanding, rather than anger.
Bringing things up to date, and the recent homophobic rant by Ten Walls, and the Twitter-born sexual harassment of Resident Advisor scribe Andrew Ryce by Tanner Ross (a result of a bad review of Jamie XX’s latest LP) reveal a dance scene that’s no longer all about making new pals in a dark room, dragging them back to yours to live out LCD Soundsystem’s All My Friends, and then forgetting their names – but not their life stories – by the following afternoon. Since when did This Thing Of Ours have so much to do with self-promotion, greed and defensiveness, rather than an acceptance of the right to be yourself?
It’s a question that might make you think that “the Getintothis dance columnist is a few thumps to the face short of a reality check“. That’s probably true, but nevertheless we stand by our convictions. Here’s hoping for more positive reference points with which to open next month’s Footsteps then. In the meantime, why not get distracted from the horrific headlines, bigotry, closed-mindedness, subjugation and general nastiness pervading the planet with the following quality releases, before involving yourself in July’s top five club events for the North West. Who knows, by the time you’re done someone might have come up with some kind of solution to something.
EPs that won’t make you feel any more depressed than what you’ve just read:
Matt Playford – Mr Future
Dropping on 1 July we have the latest EP from Mat Playford. Easily one of the most musically talented UK producers currently making tunes, and this cut for Hard Times – the imprint born of the legendary Leeds-based party crew – proves the point. A deranged analogue synth arpeggio and string overture nods to the classic garage-house sound that once defined the organisation’s events, before a lunging, pummelling bassline emerges taking us into dirtier, sweatier, post-midnight territories. Yep.
Invisible Cities – Moments In Between
Slo-mo for fans of cosmic disco and alt-synth pop would be one way to describe this delightful triple-header from Invisible Cities. Landing via Double Drop on 6 July, the original is a low-BPM chugger that wouldn’t sound out of place in the boxes of Bill Brewster or Ewan Pearson, but the real delights come in the form of Ivan Smagghe’s edits, one dub one vocal, diverting into raw, stripped broken beats whilst refusing to speed up.
Fort Romeau – Frankfurt Versions
If you don’t know Fort Romeau it’s probably time to start taking more of our advice. Far from self-congratulatory trumpet blowing, the German producer’s album, Insides, is one of the finest LPs of the year, and this follow-up package featuring remixes from the likes of Roman Flugel (an incredible futurist take on the album’s title number containing one of the best noises we’ve ever heard) is also essential listening from 6 July.
Dan Mela & Lady Blacktronika – Drive Me Crazy
Half inspired by classic acid house, half apparently dreamt up in some lunatic funk haze, Dan Mela returns to the What Ever Not label on 6 July for a fresh attempt at moving feet, and does very well indeed. Helped in no small part by the baritone, soul-filled vocals of Lady Blacktronika, all four versions (which, for a change, are beyond markedly different without losing the immediately identifiable elements of the original) are great. Trust us.
Demarkus Lewis – Running On Kaoz Street
Straight up U.S. house vibes for the summertime (now it’s finally looking like it might arrive). Picture open air parties that last from midday to midnight, imagine the smell of charcoal, liquor and smokes; then consider what the perfect soundtrack might be. Three original cuts on offer from 27 July – as Rhodes-heavy as they are bouncy and soulful.
Kasket – Egal
There’s nothing better than a disc of uncompromisingly banging techno, yet you can’t beat something truly varied and left of the middle, either. Enter Charlie Baldwin of Kasket, and this five-tune EP on Apollo. Available 27 July, expect a quintet that veers between the late-90s Chicken Lips-esque funky drumminess of Wait For It, It’s A Shame’s blissed-out beatless harmonies, and Hollywood’s tropical-leaning not-quite-dubstep.
Albums that make it all better:
Matrixxman – Homesick
There’s a production quality at work on this debut long player from Charles Duff, the San Francisco-Bay Area producer behind Matrixxman, that immediately elevates Homesick above almost anything else we heard this month. Best typified with the simple but painstakingly detailed techno roller, Augmented, which should be heard very, very loud to get the full benefit, the result is another smash for the Ghostly International crew. Available from 10 July.
Happyghost – Cache
It’s impossible to know just how fitting the name Happyghost is until you listen to this mammoth double-CD in its entirety. Shades of spookiness abound- subtle whispered refrains and edgy synth work- yet there’s a fun, bouncy and immediately inviting side to many of the track here too (read: warm timbre and infectious percussive accents). Top marks all round then for the least Chicago-sounding release from Chicago on 27 July.
Nicolas Winding Refn Presents – Robocop: Original Music By Basil Poledouris
Admittedly, this is about as electronic as a steam engine, despite what you might expect the score to a classic sci-fi to sound like. That said, we’ve been hammering Poledouris’ epic string masterpiece for weeks now, and, given the lifeblood of this scene is experimentation and discovery, by God we’re including the latest instalment in the Nicolas Winding Refn presents series, which comes out on 17 July.
Seb Wildblood – Foreign Parts
An exceptionally well crafted L.P. from the chap who runs one of London’s finest parties (Church at Corsica Studios), much innovation can be found in Wildblood’s arrangements. Moody, delicate, uplifting, techy yet soulful house music that’s very much of our time without following fads or trends, the word ‘longevity’ comes to mind when considering whether you’ll be playing this 12 months after 27 July.
Mr. Jones – Sounds for The Mute
When the skies are blue, the sun is shining, and your calendar full of notes that say ‘BBQ?’ the last thing anyone really wants to hear is full on techno, the likes of which is more suited to a pitch dark basement than afternoon soiree. Even so, this strong collection from Mr. Jones is so powerful, relentless, ravey, and infectious we couldn’t help but give it a nod. Just don’t expect it to make you feel like going outside on 31 July.
***Top Five North West Events***
Zutekh @ Soup Kitchen – Saturday 4 July, £12.50
Offering Manchester’s party people the prospect of Leon Vynehall all night long, the dedicated and passionate crew behind one of the city’s most respected house and techno parties are again spoiling us. And you. Definitely one to buy in for, before it sells out.
Hardfloor Live @ Williamson Tunnels – Saturday 4 July, £13
We adore Williamson Tunnels, potentially Liverpool’s unsung jewel in the clubbing crown. We also love Hardfloor’s live analogue techno sessions; Roland 303-heavy, high-energy sets to say the least. Put them both together, then, and what have you got?
Noumenal Melody @ Joshua Brooks – Friday 17 July, £8
Joshua Brooks welcomed its impressive Void soundsystem last year, which should make this night go off with a bang. We’ve been huge fans of Alex Smoke since his early Vakant days, and can’t wait to catch the stripped-yet-intricate techno chap again.
10 x 10 at Mayfield Depot – Saturday 18 July, £25
Quality names abound at this bash from The Warehouse Project and Manchester International Festival; Octave One, Kyle Hall, DJ Koze. But top of the pile by a mile is the back-to-back from techno heroes Carl Craig and Mike ‘Never Plays In The North’ Banks. Can’t wait? Neither can we.
Diynamic Showcase at The Bombed Out Church – Saturday 18 July, £35
As representatives of one of the most sought after record labels in the world right now, Solomun (The Bossman), Stimming, Thyladomid and Magdalena will be sure to sell this tech house session out, and still have plenty of people standing outside trying to hear what’s being played.
We’ve teamed up with the guys at 303 to offer two sets of readers a pair of tickets each for the highly anticipated Hardfloor live at Williamson Tunnels event. All you have to do is answer the following question and like our Facebook Page leaving the answer beneath our post – which can be found here. Good luck!
Q) Where are Hardfloor from?