December 21, 2009

News - Sonar 2010

Sonar, the most respected electronic music festival in Spain, draws thousands of established artists, new talent, record labels and DJs to Barcelona each year. Next summer for the first time the festival will take place across two locations, Barcelona and A Coruña, due to the celebrations of the holy Xacobeo Jubilee Year.

DFA's 'LCD Soundystem' and 'Air' have just been handpicked as the two first acts to kick off the 3-day electronic music festival.

"The A Coruña event, dubbed Sónar Galicia, will have a Sónar by Day with a music line-up, and a multimedia and audiovisual area with a special emphasis on Galician artists. The Sónar by Night stages will feature the latest leading lights in electronica."

Earlybird prices have also just been released, these prices up until 31st January

Full day and night pass 130€
Professional Accreditation 145€

Really looking forward to this summer's Sonar! For new, experimental and fresh music the Saturday Sonar by Day is a one not to be missed!!

As more artists get added and we get more news we will keep you updated!

December 19, 2009

Artist Tip - UK Bass Maverick - Shackleton

Co-founder of the legendary Skull Disco label (RIP), Shackleton has more recently made the 'all so familiar' migration to Berlin after deciding to put the highly successful Skull Disco to rest. I actually arrived a little late on the Shackleton wave, as it wasn't until his famous musical rendezvous with Ricardo Villalobos that I woke up to his unique sound. To cut a long story short, Shackleton and the other half of Skull DIsco 'Appleblim' saw Ricardo play one of his mind bending sets at Bestival (Isle of White) and having heard him drop his now famous track 'Blood on my Hands' a few times earlier in the year they were interested in getting their faces known. Both kitted out in Skull Disco t-shirts, they soon got his attention and after the show, had chance to hand him over the track to remix, which he gladly obliged to and free of charge! This kind of thing really does show the genuine side of Ricardo and his quest for new sounds. Anyway he returned with his amazing trippy 'Apocolipse Now' remix and in turn dropped it to devasating effect at places like Fabric, which raised Shackleton's profile to to the next level.

This in my opinion was a pivotal point in raising awareness in the Berlin Techno camp of the futuristic sounds coming out of  the UK Bass scene over the last few years.
Right then, let's get down to the music. For those who aren't aware of Shackleton, think of Dubstep for a second, and then completely throw that out the window. Aside from the structure revolving around the base and perhaps in his earlier work (the tempo), it bares little resemblance to anything other than 'Shackleton' music. From his first Live performances playing just his own tracks on vinyl, he has taken the 'Ableton Live' route. From what I hear, it was due to the fact his music is so percussive it was actually a bit of a ball ache having to beatmatch all the time. Well regarless of the reasons, he really has utilzed the power of Ableton Live to create highly hypnotic primal sets which as mentioned on ''..."Seem to be built vertically with layer upon layer of tribal patterns and washes of static feedback, with individual components stacked upon each other and then elaborately peeled away to the bare bones. The overall effect is reminiscent less of any concept of 'dubstep' than of some mutant, devolved strain of techno, stripped to its very core and innately tied to the ritualistic connotations of the 'dance'.
Described as 'Interesting bass music' by many, and with his current home residing in Berlin, it seems fitting that the legandary Perlon label asked him to release his latest work, called 'Three EPS'. This EP grows on me more and more with each listen. There just seems to be so much depth and texture within the sparse razer sharp rhythms and sub base that it always evokes that 'one more listen' aspect. Perhaps with his music having that certain uneasy vibe, it provokes that little bit of human nature in all of us, which is the curiosity to just look around the corner that 'one more time' and just try to understand that 'little bit' more.

The last time I saw him play was at Stealth in Nottingham back in 2008 and it still sits among the top Live sets ive ever seen. The mood he created was so primal, hypnotic and tense, by the end it really had sucked in my mind. After his set it actually took me and few others a good half hour to adjust back to some sort of normal conversation.

Check below for a review and link of his latest EP and also a stream of his mix on BBC's Mary Anne Hobbs Experimental Show. We will be keeping an eye on his musical development over in Berlin and will post any links to up and coming EP's or interesting gigs, so watch this space!

Shackleton - MAH MIX September 2009


December 15, 2009

Masters of the live-sets...

For me the idea of the "live-set" has always been an odd one. For those unfamiliar..

"Live-set refers to any performance of electronic music that is generated live out of a bank of equipment or a laptop rather than played from a pre-recorded medium (such as vinyl or CD.)"

The electronic dance scene has always been pushed forward by DJs. The guys at the front testing the new music on different crowds, educating and directing the scene. DJs now having access to so much recorded pieces of music and sounds from so many different countrys and decades.

Even though livesets have been around for a long time there seems to be an increase in artists getting booked, maybe because of the internet etc, after producing just a couple of good tracks. Not comfortable with DJing, not a natural performer, a lot of times these artists stick to playing there own tracks and loops and bang "...PLAYING LIVE" is put on the flyer!!

In my experience, at the moment most are:- sounding flat in the club, the artists are not vibing off the crowd as the 50mins - 1hr20mins set is mostly pre-planned.. it feels like somebody should be taking care of the crowd, letting them get involved and really experience something and not just having somebody throw music at them. But with limited sounds and emotions to choose from... there doesn't seem to be many directions for the artist to go!!

Anyway the title wasn't meant as an attempt at sarcasm.. There are a few guys at the moment that are playing livesets and are doing it at an extremely HIGH standard!! It feels like, instead of making their music and then trying to somehow piece it together to show it to a crowd, they are always concentrating on working on bettering their performances.. Keeping the music as spontaneous as possible by controlling as many effects and mixing on the fly as much as they can. They are also releasing some amazing tracks, which do an amazing job of capturing a snippet of the emotion of their live performance, but also gives other DJs the chance to use their music in different ways. Its like they are using their releases to get people excited about going to see themselves performing, rather then using the livesets to try and promote themselves and their new album or latest release.. The right way around if you ask me..

Three examples that need to be heard live!!!..

Deadbeat.. (Already mentioned in the review of him playing in Barcelona last month) an adopted Montrealer who has been releasing dub laden minimal electronics since 1998. Heres him playing last year at the Elevate Festival..

  Deadbeat Live @ Elevate Festival, Graz Austria - 08-11-2008

Shackleton.. Originally from Bristol, Shackleton has been carving out his own brand of eclecticism with intricate, snaking percussion, hypnotic melodies, seriously deep bass lines and dubwise sensibilities..

Shackleton Live at Sonar 2008

Carl Craig. very different example from the other two but just had to get this up on here. Amazing, one of the best things Ive seen. He was in Barcelona last month.. Sit back, get comfortable. Here he is at Cite de la Musique, Paris last year. Click for full video (taken from

December 13, 2009

Event Review - Deadbeat and Andres Bucci in Barcelona. (Taken from

Event - Soiree Mutek
Venue - Moog Club Barcelona
Line-Up - Deadbeat Live, Andres Bucci Live, Nerone...
Rating - 4.5/5

I was unlucky (and lucky for other reasons) to be back in sunny England at the time so I missed this, but I had a fair few friends who attended and made me even more jealous with their rave reviews. Watch this space though, as according to the grape vine, Mutek will be doing more events here in the near future. I'll give the link to the review below but firstly I want to highlight a paragraph in this review which is very relevant to my personal views of the current state of affairs with electronic music in Barcelona at the moment.

"Mutek, like many others at the grass roots level in Barcelona, have realised that there is a growing gulf between the techno tourists and the big stage sounds of the yearly festival and the so-called "advanced electronic music" they claim to represent. The mood away from the festival is also growing disillusioned as well, with few places for local talent to tout their wares at the bigger clubs that are neither aware enough nor brave enough to consistently push a more "advanced" electronic agenda, bar the occasional night."

It's good to here these words from someone else about Barcelona, as I was beginning to think it was just me and my anal tastes. But I am not anal, I just enjoy good music thrown by passionate people and in terms of what is happening in barcelona (bar a few exceptions) it's pretty non existent at the moment. It's still quite an interesting time though as there is a definite feel in the sinful air of BCN that things are looking up. With underground venues such as La Nave in Poble Nou, run by various passionate music lovers and party organisers, there is definitely a market for nights which have that 'vibe' to re-egnite BCN once more. Let's see what happens ay?

Making a Ripple: Scuba (SCB)

Founder of the amazing Hotflush label, this guy has had a serious year. One of the genre pushers who's been thoroughly exploring the realms of the Dubstep/Techno crossover and a key figure in the B2B or Berlin Bristol axis as some people may know. To cut along story short about the Berlin Bristol axis, it's basically a group of producers, mainly from Bristol who have been producing 'Dubstep' which doesn't quite sit within the genre (Shackleton is another example - but that's another story!) but have been plopped in there anyway as it's only place the music can fit. But these guys (many long term fans of Techno) have been exploring the idea's of using Detroit Techno, Chicago House and other sounds as influences within the Dubstep palette. Through releasing tracks which have been picked up by the crew over at the Hard Wax record store in Berlin, they have built a strong relationship with the guys at Hardwax and thus have created this Berlin Bristol mashup. The tracks tend to be more stripped down and more focused on rhythmical experimentation and clever use of space within sounds whilst still evolving around some serious sub base. Scuba is one of the leading figures of this sound at the moment has has done some sick mixes this year to showcase it.

But for me personally, the most interesting thing about these guys at the moment is their bravery in mixing things up in their sets. There not afraid to hop between old and new house, techno, acid, even the odd Pink Floyd or as displayed in the opening of Scuba's Hotflush podcast, one of the tracks from the Alien movie. And in my opinion in a time where the scene is saturated with 2 hour set safety DJ's who are afraid to take things down and back up again, this is a welcome movement.

He's currently running a night in Berlin at the Berghain club on a Friday called 'Sub:Stance', which I'm yet to go to but it's on the top of my 'to go' list that's for sure. Another equally as interesting Alias of his at the moment is called SCB, which is basically flipping the concept upside down. The way I perceive it, is Scuba is playing the more Dubstep end (mainly because of tempo) which has heavy House/Techno influences, where as SCB is more straight up House/Techno but its taking many influences and sounds from the Dubstep side. Anyway enough ramblings, check out both sides for yourself....

Podcast 03 – Scuba (RIght click and save as to download)

Recommended Event - Sub:Stance @ Berghain (Berlin) 15-01-10

This is a heavily recommended night, with only a few nights behind them this is a very new concept at the Berghain club. Expect to hear futuristic sounds from the grey area between Dubstep, House and Techno with the odd bit of jungle and Drum & Bass thrown in for good measure.

Making a Ripple - Matias Aguayo

I had the pleasure of seeing the man at Club Apollo in BCN a few weeks back with Michael Mayer. To be honest I hadn't really followed him much since his early days on Kompakt, with his more minimalist melodic style. However after a recent 14tracks selection of the man, I decided to buy his new album called 'Ay Ay Ay' which I have been very impressed with. In my opinion, it's somewhere in between House, Techno and Punk. His style at the moment definitely has that rough round the edges raw vibe to it, and much like his titled 'minimal' track it's obviously a direction which has been fueled by the rebellion of all things sterile and clean within the 'minimal' domination over the last few years. What I like about this though however is the fact he's not just making fuller louder sounds purely to rebel against minimal like much of the soulless loopy 'House' which has flooded the market over the last few years (I mean it's still 'minimal' anyway, expect replace the glitches and bleeps with sampled bongo's and the white noise and plug in vst's with classic chord stabs and classic soul vocals and voila, the 'sound of now'). Back on topic, no this guy has a very clever rebellion, this is some future live House and Techno shit with very clever live elements and arrangements. The guy had a shaker and was beat-boxing and still managed to make it look cool as fuck and sexy as hell.

What I like about his live vocals and beat-boxing is that he used them not in the standard format, but in a very sutle way to create textures and rhythms which heightened the groove and flow of his tracks during the mix. For all people who haven't seen him yet, be sure to check one of his gigs soon and for those who haven't even heard him, check out the links below. One is his new album 'Ay Ay Ay' and the other is a selection of tracks on

 Matias Aguayo - Ay Ay Ay

Recommended album track - Rollerskate -

Recommended selection track - Walter Neff

Article - Barcelona Bass

(Taken from

An interesting article on the current lack of musical identity in Barcelona.

For the majority of the electronic music-loving world, outside of one heady week in June, Barcelona only exists as an Adidas record bag bearing the industry code of honour – that little Sonar snowflake.

For the weeks following the festival, fellow owners of these souvenir bags smile knowingly as they pass each other in London streets; yep, they were all there, in the press area, musing on what comes after wonky. But what happens for the other 51 weeks of the year on the Barcelona club and music scene?

The reality is that, for a few years, Barcelona’s music scene has been suffering from an identity crisis. Barcelona The Party Town that hoards of graffing Swedes, German graphic designers and London DJs moved to five years ago has had to face some cold, hard practicalities. For every new club that opens, five are closed down due to noise restrictions. Some of the cities most legendary clubs, like Paloma, Café Royale and New York New York, have suffered deathblows. There is now no such thing as a bar with a licence for live music - this includes decks. Short-sighted club owners are happy to cram their spaces with thirsty tourists, who ask nothing more than to shake their sequins to the five-nights-a-week resident techno DJ.

"Barcelona’s music scene has been suffering from an identity crisis."

So, what does this mean to a city full of party-hardy heads, hungry for something new and with no place to go? As ever, the time has come to get creative...

After a couple of years in therapy, Barcelona is beginning to gain confidence. Two weeks ago, somewhere in a crazy sculpture studio-cum-club in Poble Nou, Meneo’s Rigo was heard whispering “I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think we might have a scene here”. The city is young and resilient and bursting with creative people who have the will, and are gradually finding the way.

Each time the police close down one party, another one crops up somewhere else. Puny soundsystems in central venues mean that people are heading for the outskirts – illegal warehouse venues like Pere IV and out of town clubs like Sala BeGood (home to the huge dubstep night B.LOW). The recent Su Casa Es Mi Casa saw a collective of artists and musicians take over painter Monty’s home and re-invent it as an exhibition space, for one day only.

"Puny soundsystems in central venues mean that people are heading for the outskirts."

Alternatively, scruffpots and pay-as-you-goers are turning to unlikely spots for inspiration. The city’s ‘pijo’ (read: ‘footballers' wives bling-a-ling’) venues have become an untapped source of merriment and mischief. Each month Mondo Club’s Studio 54-inspired, white banquette-filled terrace overlooking the yachts is flooded with caps and gold hoops – youths with hipflasks in their back pockets and a yearning to turn the place upside-down to dubstep, grime and booty. Shake & Bass had a stint in a privately owned gallery – DJ Face-Tic had people hanging from the rooftop bed and swinging from the sculptures.

So, what about the music itself?

What's emerging is a music scene that reflects the city’s unique and slightly bastard identity. It' a city that has only known immigration for 30 years, but it knows it very well. Much of Barcelona’s creative crowd can be found in studios and on terraces in higgledy piggledy Raval, an area where illegal immigrants from Morocco and Pakistan cuddle up to Senegalese bag sellers and Nigerian prostitutes. Barcelona City Council’s aggressive town-planning attempts to ‘clean up’ Raval have seen Philip Stark-designed hotels air-dropped into poor areas - the local residents have no hope of getting a job in these places, let alone staying in them. An air of menace and disquiet lies beneath the tourist hotspot and all of this is reflected in the music. If you are at Sonar this year, be sure not to miss two offerings from Barcelona’s Disboot CollectiveCauto who recently released on DJ/rupture's Dutty Artz and brings menacing dubstep to the dance, and anti-globalist Filastine whose dark soundscapes cover everything from trip-hop to Balkan.

"However bad the credit crunch (or ‘creeeeesis’ as they call it here in Spain), it’s hard to stay blue for long when there’s a parrot on your balcony and a five-man salsa band at the end of your street."

But the fact, whichever way you look at it, is that Barcelona is a chirpy city - there’s sunshine, there’s a beach, there’s palm trees for christ’s sake! And there’s no mistaking this in the parties and music that ooze out of every little uptown warehouse and downtown chiringuito. However bad the credit crunch (or ‘creeeeesis’ as they call it here in Spain), it’s hard to stay blue for long when there’s a parrot on your balcony and a five-man salsa band at the end of your street.

Nobody knows and shows this better than local legends, Meneo, a bouncy, colourful duo who play 8-bit cumbia music – their very own, self-coined ‘electropical’. Just listening to one Meneo track says everything there is to say about Barcelona – there’s spirit, there’s colour, there’s hints of darkness and lots and lots of noise. Meneo are crowned and naked kings of Barcelona’s party scene and they are slowly taking over the world, festival by festival. Friends with Toy Selectah and the Zizek crew, they are also part of an international Cumbia scene that is threatening to throw Hervé and Sinden from their fidget house thrones. And with upcoming remixes from Tomb Crew, Silverlink and Dead Robot and some serious love from Mad Decent these boys are proving themselves to be so much more than a niche 8-bit act.

Meneo also represent a sound that is undeniably a part of Barcelona’s heritage. Dare I say the word ‘fusion’? Dare I utter the name ‘Manu Chao’? Whatever your thoughts on this omnipresent local, his sound is representative of a city that takes its influences from all around the world. Barcelona is a port town. People from all corners come here for a week and end up staying five years. It is a transient city of come-ers and go-ers, who all bring and leave behind their influences and sounds. And because of this the fusion sound is progressing. Barcelona’s El Guincho may well be one of the most internationally recognised artists currently pioneering this movement. He plays techno for the sunshine – his sounds are hard and unrelenting, but somehow manage to remain cheery and decidedly tropical. A new world music.

"Barcelona cannot claim to have a sound that is all its own right now – it’s no Bristol or Baltimore."

Alongside the appreciation of other cultures, there is also a quiet and modest appreciation of the homegrown. K**O will be playing at Sonar by Day this year. He is a resident DJ for both Plat du Jour and Desparrame – an uber-cool night he organises with electro-rockers Delorean. The crew came together through a shared love of R Kelly and old-school Spanish dance music and are doing nights that cover everything from T Pain to El General. K**O’s Espanish Boogie mix was a homage to Spanish 80’s boogie music and it became a blog hit, snapped up by the likes of Discobelle. His production debut - Ximo XL - is packed with pure 90’s Bacalao samples. Kazey & Bulldog are among its fans.

Download: K**O - FACT Mix

Another new night that is currently making waves in Barcelona is our very own Plat du Jour. With a crew made up of Brits, Swedes and a Basque man, we can't claim the Spanish culture as our own, but we still take a certain pride in it. What we're trying to do is open up Barcelona once more as a destination for forward-thinking international DJs. One of the promoters, Tom Dodd, explains that the hope is to “take the best of what there is to offer locally and put it on an international stage. There is no international stage without international players.” The night has seen the likes of Meneo, K**O and DJ Face Tic billed alongside Joker, Mumdance, Yo Majesty, Drums of Death and Rustie. Our Off-Sonar party in association with FACT looks set to be one of this years highlights: with a Brainfeeder room featuring Flying Lotus and friends, and a Plat du Jour room billing local acts such as DJ Slick Dixx alongside Mumdance, Jackmaster, Oneman, Brackles and a few surprises.

What this city is undoubtedly steeped in is people who want to party. Forget self-conscious, ‘ironic’, people-watching parties. Barcelona is about unashamed, hands-to-the-ceiling fun - no wry smiles round here. Barcelona cannot claim to have a sound that is all its own right now – it’s no Bristol or Baltimore. But it will never be short of creative people doing creative things – open-minded and receptive to all number of influences. It’s only a matter of time.

Clare Considine

Album Tip! (Not for the faint hearted) - Demdike Stare - Symbiosis

*Long awaited CD album collecting both limited vinyl editions from Demdike Stare, fusing elements of everything from fragmented dub to Turkish, Iranian and West Indian library records, through to Scandinavian drone, Chicago House and beyond..." Demdike Stare is a long-in-the-making hookup between two shady characters operating at the fringes of Manchester's fragmented music scene: Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty. Miles has been a longtime affiliate of Modern Love as one half of Pendle Coven and under his own MLZ alias, while Canty is one of the city's most recognisable vinyl collectors, carrying an obsession with everything from obscure Nordic Doom records to Anatolyan funk albums, fuelled by his dayjob helping out at the Finders Keepers label. The project is named after Pendle's most famous witch: Elizabeth Southerns, aka Demdike. The tracks on 'Symbiosis' are drawn from elements of Turkish, Indian, Iranian, African and West Indian film soundtracks alongside Norwegian drone records, classic House templates, punctured dub, modified techno and the arctic noise perfected by Mika Vainio. Original sources and dense analogue experiments weave around eachother with little care for convention or stylistic expectation, instead throwing the pair's extensive musical knowledge into a set of tracks that, quite brilliantly, defy categorisation."
(Sourced from

Okay, so halloween has passed, but for all people who want to push their emotions a little bit down the dark and unknown from time to time, then spend a night in with the headphones or have a long walk at night and absorb this album in it's entirety. A very atmospheric album which has touches of Rhythm and Sound influences with an all together unique touch. Highly Recommended!

Artist Tip - The Many Shades of Stephan Laubner...

One of the most unknown prolific producers in the business. Here is a selection on Boomkat's excellent 14tracks site which will show you a vast array of his beautifully crafted electronic expressions ranging from headfuck ambient to lush deep house and techno. One of my all time favorite producers and a true master in his own right....Seminal!

On a party tip check the track 'Something is Raw' by his STL Alias. Pure Cheek! On another note, an example of the beauty of the 14 track selections....even if you know a fair bit about everything, there's always something new you'll discover. I never knew about one of his ambient alias' called 'Lunatik Soundsystem'. Turns out to be beautiful stuff...

Anyway check out the link below and give this guy some love..

Article - The blogs that act as modern-day cratediggers

Cratedigging … the old-fashioned way. Photograph: David Sillitoe/Guardian

Interesting article I came across about the music recommendations and passionate music loving bloggers who are beginning to fill the void of the old school record store format.

"When big indie albums leak, bloggers often post up tracks to drive traffic to their site – it's cynical, and often against the wishes of the artist, but I'd be lying if I said I'd never done it myself. However, there's another type of site engaging in copyright infringement, in a far more defensible way. These are the whole-album bloggers, the modern-day cratediggers who post records long out of print, and so obscure as to have barely existed. These blogs democratise record collecting, making the arcane – Turkish prog, Italian soundtracks, Puerto Rican 45s – accessible to all.
The cratedigging bloggers think their posts are on solid moral ground. "If an LP is out of print, there are no sales to be affected, so no one suffers any losses," says Smooth, of My Jazz World. "If the industry cannot keep this music in print, then bloggers like myself have to fill the void."
They also, perhaps paradoxically, keep the collectors market vibrant – "If 500 people download an album from 1981, and there is one for sale for €200, then my blog has probably been instrumental in selling it," suggests 433rpm, who blogs at No Longer Forgotten Music.
Of course, what the cratediggers are doing is technically illegal, hence their anonymity. But there's a real vehemence from the cratedigger brigade towards blogs that post new and readily available material: "I hate those blogs, they're the true death of the music industry," spits 433rpm. Hines agrees: "I am constantly stunned at the cupidity and greed of the people that frequent these sites."
Despite the questionable legality, savvy labels are starting to see the opportunities from these exhumed artists. 433rpm's championing of Dutch punks the Rondos, and Pittsburgh industrialists XX Committee, led to reissues of their material. Soul reissuers Wax Poetics have advertised on My Jazz World, although Smooth says the likes of Universal and Sony are still reluctant: "They cannot fight on one side what they support on the other."
Feel free to leave your recommendations for cratedigger blogs in the comments below, but beware: as Simon Reynolds said in an article for the Wire last year, whole-album blogs "drastically exacerbate the condition known as collector-itis". You have been warned!"
(As taken from