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Head in the Clouds

September 11, 2010

This blog seems to share that classic cliche with buses, you wait ages for one, then two come along in quick succession.

Well, I’m back on the wagon now, so hopefully you can expect a lot more from my website, as I have more time and a new computer to stimulate me, and my better half is reinvigorated in her web-design career quest.

The inspiration behind this post is the plethora of wonderful music being shared on sites like Soundcloud and Mixcloud. I felt like this goldmine of free – and without illegal downloading guilt – music needed to be disseminated. But not just by word of mouth, or this blog, but in a magazine or website with a much wider reach, so I contacted one of the most prominent proponents of the movement – Justin Robertson – for an interview.

Justin at Bugged Out's 15th Birthday Party

He graciously accepted, and here are a few of the interesting things he had to say about the way he has chosen to promote his new venture, the Deadstock 33’s.

On the inspiration behind the new project: It’s been a couple of years of really trying to find my new sound, I went down a couple of blind alleys but something really clicked when I just relaxed and started using organic sounds with more electronic noises. It felt brand new, but with a nod to the past all at the same time. I guess dance music is such a fresh open place now, no more dull purism, or us and them attitudes to guitar bands, it’s just a great melting pot of ideas and fresh new talent. The inspiration was really in just celebrating the music I’ve grown up with and played for many years, while adding a fresh iconoclastic 21st century approach. Just enjoying myself!

On the rise of this un-definable new sound in dance music, led by the likes of him and Erol Alkan, etc: The schizophrenics are taking over… it’s just about a non purist approach to music. That seems like something I’ve been doing for years but also quite new – it’s fantastic – people are sharing their influences on all the various social networking sites, putting up clips, mixes etc, and it means people can broaden their horizons instantly. So once you’ve heard some obscure Electric Prunes record why not try and stick in with a Carl Craig remix! I think it’s an expression of the joy of music, it’s about sharing and communicating a passion, Erol does that so well, it’s the flow of a passionate collector.

And discussing the music sharing revolution: It’s the brave new world right now! All this trying to legislate against downloading is pointless; the genie has left the bottle. It’s certainly much harder to make a living selling music, but it certainly hasn’t affected creativity as far as I can see, there is so much amazing stuff out there now. I love using all the various sites and music tools out there, it’s a perfect platform for sharing, and though sometimes it can be a bit ‘look at me, look at me’ it’s just great for finding new stuff. New producers, new bands, new labels… and then being able to swap music, do collaborations and share ideas very quickly. I think I’ve done maybe five or six projects this year purely from contacting people via Soundcloud or Twitter or whatever. I think it’s becoming just a great 24 hour music conversation.

I hope you enjoyed those tip-bits from one of my musical heroes, hopefully the full article will be in print somewhere soon, but for now have a listen to all his new remixes and live mixes here. It’s not just him clogging up the Clouds with great music of course…

Evil Nine have been promoting their new label For Lovers with give away mixes and productions, the latest of which – For Lovers Part Deux: Rise of the Lovers – demonstrates their entertaining new happy house sound. Shame the productions that have gone along with the new label (Ultimo and Stay Up) aren’t nearly as good as their old beats and breaks stuff. The other great production duo of that time are also pushing their new label through the site, and if you’re a fan of their more bassline house and hyped-up dubstep style, then take a gander around the Plump DJ’s Grand Hotel page. New singles Boomer and Water Born Computer Virus are up in condensed form for all to hear.

Another artist utilising Soundcloud is perennial favourite Aeroplane, who teased the delightfully summery debut dingle from his forthcoming album – We Can’t Fly – as well as releasing a brilliant hour long spangly disco mix every month over the summer. Other artists getting involved in the upload and share ethos of Soundcloud include: Murmur boss Geddes (excellent remix of INXS and classic Ibiza 2006 mix), Alchemy Management (Tensnake’s incredibly catchy and wonderfully 90’s sounding remix of Azari & III’s Reckless for your Love), Soma (live recordings from Pressure and mixes/releases from talented new signing Decimal), M.A.N.D.Y (great mix live from Watergate last month), DJ Food (a string of superb downloadable mixes, including this magical Boards of Canada album minimix), Fabric (constantly updated with promo mixes and singles, like this from Sebastien Voigt, or this from the Nextmen’s Brad Baloo), Charlie May (remixes of typically epic new single Homecoming), Layo+Bushwacka! (mixes from their Shake It club night), Luke Solomon (lots of lovely mixes to be downloaded and kept for long journeys), Tom Middleton (who’s in the habit of posting snippets of all his new remixes and releases), and many, many more…

The trend of bands and artists sharing singles, or even streaming entire albums before their official release is continued by those fun Norweigan chaps, Royksopp. Their new album Senior is up on HypeMachine to stream in its entirety, and it’s really rather good; The Fear being an early favourite of mine.

Also not on either of the sites, but still well worth a mention, is a give-away remix of Logo’s fantastic La Vie Modern, first heard on Kitsune‘s Maison compilation earlier this year. Click here to download the mouthful that is French Fries & Tony Senghore’s re-edit featuring PiuPiu. And if you liked that, then here’s a cheeky minimix of the EP. Also, on a purely first come, first served basis, there’s one free download of a fantastic We Love mix from BPitch Contol HQ.

Another promo well worth taking a listen to is the 50th release from Boys Noize Records, one of their own productions, the deliciously dark and nasty 1010. Or also on promo is the latest release from Alex Smoke and Jim Hutchison’s Hum+Haw label, Automaton UK’s British Steel.


Blowing my own trumpet, I’ve made another couple of 8tracks mixes. One is a celebration of the good old days of breaks, the other one is a compilation of the best of this ‘nu-disco’ wave I’ve been enjoying over the last couple of summers.

Fianlly, a bit of promotion for something I’ve been asked to help out with at Mixcloud. To increase user involvement and favourite sharing on the site, some people heavily involved with the site have been asked to act as ambassadors for the various categories of Cloudcasts. I’ve been assigned the Culture and News sections – presumably becasue of my vast intellectual weight and journalistic integrity – so if you’re on the site and fancy catching up on some news or culture, then feel free to recommend or Facebook ‘like’ what you’ve been listening to, so that more people get to benefit.

I can personally recommend: one of my favourite podcasts – the mighty Football Ramble the Guardian’s book-worm pod – news from reliable sources like The Economist, New York Times, The BBC, or even straight from the most powerful man in the world.

Oh, one last thing – the final nail’s in Radio 1’s coffin appears to have been hammered, with Mary Anne Hobbs’ departure from her long-running Breezeblock show. Catch the last episode here while you still can, and while you’re there, check out the last thing worth listening to on the station (bar maybe Zane Lowe or the Essential Mix ((Joris Voorn’s is well worth it))), Annie Nightingale, and her anniversary series of the best of the guest mixes on her even longer-running show.

It’s just not what it used to be. Although, as I’ve hopefully demonstrated, there’s more than enough music available out there to fill the void.

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