dirty martini

old music for new people

digital reality May 4, 2008

fractals were big in 90s clubland. low budgets meant artists and record labels needed to be creative in order to get their videos on totp. there are countless low budget clips of djs, producers and random girls swaying awkwardly behind a keyboard.

others, notably the progressive house community, opted for computer-generated fractals. clubs picked up on the trend and installed big screens for wide eyed clubbers to fixate on as they danced.

progressive house was a hybrid of house and trance that built incrementally, hence the name. it was especially popular oop north but the south did hold its own with clubs like final frontier at club uk and whoop it up at the velvet rooms and gardening club.

mtv used to show those x-mix videos in full late at night back then and back from my underage drinking sessions, i would sit fixated for hours until my mum yelled at me to turn it off and get to bed.

download here

react 2 rhythm – intoxication – leftfield remix

slam – eterna

dig the new breed – whose no1

cool jack – just come

g.o.d. – inside your mind

gipsy – i trance you

andronicus – make you whole

phuture – rise from your grave

ramirez – hablando

gat decor – passion

leftfield – song of life

last rhythm – last rhythm

underground resistance – jupiter jazz

dj tools – ooh yeah

bedrock – for what you dream of

jaydee – plastic dreams

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garage city: the beginning April 26, 2008

the bacardi club chart was the closest i really ever got to garage in 1991. i was still at school, after all.

on the occasions my borrowed/faked ID got my 15 year old self in to a club or bar (and this is 91 so we are talking wine bar not the current club/bar/chill incarnation), it was either playing music ten years out of date, or simply red. and i had to be home by 12 unless we were puling the old ‘say you’re staying at mine and i’ll say i’m staying at yours’ trick. becuase if you’re sleeping over at a friend’s…you would need a sheer chiffon shirt with hotpants. good job my mum had stopped trying to pack overnight bags for me by then.

we did have the occasional illegal night put on in some dodgy warehouse but i only remember ever going to one. and of course, 1991 was mostly about rave anyway.

download here

brand new heavies – stay this way – morales’ eclipse mix

mariah carey – someday – new 12 inch house mix

incognito and jocelyn brown – always there – morales mix

fortran 5 – look to the future – joey negro future reality mix

reese project – direct me – joey negro disco blend mix

alison limerick – where love lives – classic mix

dionne – if u want my love

deep sleep – love me

korda – move your body

mass order – lift every voice – classic boot mix

jomanda – got a love for you – hurley’s house mix

mk and alana – burning – mk mix

those guys – tonite

djaimin – give you – syndromad mix

mariah carey – emotions – 12″ club mix

ce ce peniston – finally – classic mix

m people – how can i love you more

 

 

ibiza: a post about chilling December 23, 2007

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at the turn of the 80s, there was a largely forgotten exercise in building a more caring and sharing society. new age arrived with ethereal, mystic promise, based on spirituality rather than actions. this wasn’t a rehash of 60s free love by modern day hippies. 

for many this was a stark contrast to to the overriding ethos of the 80s – you can believe in what you can see in front of you. those who disagreed with that mercenary philosophy had sought refuge away from the capitalism and excess and discovered likeminded souls by seeking out the new and the strange. 

this didn’t just mean jetting off to ibiza, or turning up to shoom and warehouse raves as a means of differentiating from mainstream society. this wasn’t a friday and saturday night revolution. some pranksters – revealed to be the klf  -got up in the early hours each day to carve crop circles into fields, leading bemused and excitable farmers to proclaim that the aliens were coming. those who have no recollection can’t imagine how alien ‘1990’ sounded at the time, when it had seemed like the 80s would never end. i remember seeing decimated fields on the news and inwardly laughing at how the adult nation were taken in by this joke. it was harmless fun, a subtle yet memorable message that things needed to change before we descended into weirdness.

the new decade was an opportunity to sweep everyone else up in this movement. i once heard a tv commentator on one of those nostalgia shows, i love 1989, probably, make the insightful statement that the 90s actually started in the summer of 1989 when soul ii soul hit number one. there was no such landmark a decade later, the new millenium was just an excuse for inflated club entry fees. capitalism had returned in 1995.

if peace and love had lasted, i’d have called that summer of 1989 the true turn of the millenium. as it went, it was the start of five years of freedom, soundtracked by emerging house, techno and drum and bass sounds. don’t be fooled into thinking that cream, ministry of sound and renaissance played any part in this – as much fun as they were, i now realise they eventually killed the scene and brought us back to where we are today. there’s nothing new age about paying £30 to get into a club in ibiza – we already live in the UK, things are supposed to be cheaper abroad that’s half the point of going on holiday.

the new age movement grabbed me – well, i liked crystals. at one point in 1990, absolutely everyone wore white jeans, trainers and a lilac tshirt, the new age uniform. we failed to grasp the fact that our levis, reebok classics and topshop tshirt were in direct contradiction to the movement we thought we were representing. like most fads, new ageism became something you could pick up and appropriate without a speck of understanding as to its roots and philosophy, as long as you liked the music.

still, those older and wiser are lucky enough to have experienced the scene for what it should have been before the superclubs took over. they sat outside the cafe del mar before the sunset ritual became a patented experience. they danced in clubs where dj’s played music and were rewarded with genuine appreciation – not a £3000 booking fee. i visited ibiza in 1994, when the tide was turning. it was underground, but the marketability of the island was slowly being realised. when i returned two years later, it was fun but inauthentic.

all the choice we have now started in 1990, but then it was genuine choice, rather than marketing making the decision for you. it was like a trial – many of the the things we did then you can get arrested for now.  bubbling resentment hadn’t boiled over into terrorism – new age ethics reasoned that 80s consumerism and power was naive and should be allowed to correct itself, not be punished.

1990 was an exciting and emotional time. it wasn’t just the music and the philosophy. there was the world cup. anyone who can sit through nessun dorma without at least the urge to cry is, well, under 25. 

most chillout tracks for me sound like they were recorded in the early 90s. those produced later tried to emulate the sounds and mood and many did so successfully, which is why they’re in the mix. to manage any expectation, i am not a dj. this is a long, inexpertly mixed set that is a blatant attempt to squeeze as many tracks as possible onto my mp3 player, but it sorts me out when i’m drunk or hungover, stressed, can’t sleep or feel like floating away in the sun (rain).

back then we knew we were on the verge of something exciting, and we were, it just didn’t last that long or turn out the way we thought it might. i miss those days, i doubt 14 year olds now feel the way i did then.

check out my posts on the 1994 and 1996 ibiza club scenes.

90s chillout mixdownload here

leftfield – melt

sisterlove – the hypnotist

ibizarre – lazy living

nightmares on wax – les nuits

sofa surfers – sofa rockers

st etienne – only love can break your heart – andrew weatherall mix

the grid – floatation – subsonic grid mix

innocence – natural thing

bentley rhythm ace – bentley’s gonna sort you out

sheer taft- cascades – hypnotone mix

the orb – little fluffy clouds

sun electric – sundance

the beloved – the sun rising – gentle night

aphex twin – xtal

sub sub – past

orbital – belfast

klf – what time is love – original mix

fsol – papua new guinea

altern8 – self hypnosis

moby – slight return

lemon interupt – dirty

sabres of paradise – smokebelch ii – beatless mix

bbe – seven days and one week – sindaar mix

energy 52 – cafe del mar – michael woods mix

moby – go – jam and spoon mix

groove armada – at the river

fc kahuna – hayling

808 state – pacific 202

bbg – snappiness

 

ibiza: the brits are coming October 21, 2007

es-paradis.jpg

if you’ve ever seen ibiza uncovered but not actually visited the island, chances are your perceptions are slightly misled.

the antics of the young brits who descend on san antonio each year probably would seem tame in comparison to what’s occuring in benidorm, lanzarote and tenerife. but no one made a series about those places, to my knowledge.

sure, those who visited up until 1994 may be disheartened by the transformation but san antonio apart, the place does retain a balearic vibe. you can still get those funny little spanish crisps in lots of different shapes. the staple vodka limon has not been usurped by designer cocktails and red bull.

the change was evident in 1996 – the soundtrack to las salinas beach was oasis, totally at odds with the club scene but representative of what was happening back in the uk. you struggled to find cheap club entry so you spent some nights in those all night bars in the west end where if you buy four san miguels you get a free bottle of teichenne schnapps. which lets face it was too much freedom for brits used to stingy measures and archaic licensing laws, and could have been directly responsible for the mayhem displayed in ibiza uncovered…

whatever happens with the image though, the music stayed true to itself. 1996 saw the armand van helden invasion that inadvertently kickstarted the speed garage scene back home.

check out my ibiza 1994 post and also an ode to the balearic vibe of the early 00s.

download here

junior vasquez – if madonna calls

josh wink – higher state of consciousness

love tribe – stand up – alcatraz remix

cj bolland – sugar is sweeter – armand van helden mix

tori amos – professional widow – armand van helden

stretch and vern – i’m alive

lisa marie experience – keep on jumpin’

todd terry – jumpin’ – rhythm master remix

full intention – america

ken doh – i need a lover tonight

planet soul – set u free

mighty dub kats – magic carpet ride – son of wilmot original

rozzo – into your heart

wildchild – renegade master

cool jack – just come – sharp blasted dub

natural born grooves – forerunner

mory kante – yeke yeke – hardfloor mix

hysteric ego – want love

faithless – insomnia

dj scot project – u

mary kiani – 100% – tall paul mix

amen uk – passion

 

00s brit soul – national identity June 3, 2007

finally, after the copycat 80s and highs and lows of the 90s, british soul was ready to take on its own identity.

one of the first ways in which it achieved this was by redefining soul. house and garage were big business in the 90s, but the urban clubs and superclubs rarely mixed. typically, r&b was a smaller room adjacent to the the cheesier, townie clubs and didn’t even get a look in at cream, renaissance and the ministry of sound.

 

the speed garage scene that took off in the late 90s eventually slowed to a two step beat, and created a completely new sound. r&b vocals were married to stuttering, club-friendly beats and for a few years, between 1999 and 2002, uk garage was the sound of young UK.

 

after the inevitable drop in demand, uk hiphop and r&b were faced with a decision. either they could continue to emulate their US counterparts or they could use elements of uk garage to make their output distinctly british.

now we have traditional soul, copycat r&b, grime and some artists that defy classification and confuse the hell out of the yanks. we’re back in business…

 

twelve very different uk tracks from the 00sdownload here


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lemar – if there’s any justice

the only good thing to come out of the dull fame academy, simon cowell surely wishes he’d been able to get to lemar first. lemar, like girls aloud, has truly transcended his reality show beginnings and is pretty much the best current british male r&b act.

 

 

misteeq – why

south london girl band who leveraged links with the so solid crew to create a successful career in the early 00s. swiftly shook off their uk garage roots by the time they reached their second album in 2002. the group split largely due to their label, polydor, sinking after investing way too much in tone deaf victoria beckham. that’s got to hurt.
 

unklejam – love ya

relative newcomers who have been blessed/cursed with the ‘sounds a bit like prince‘ tag. time will tell if there is more to them than this track, but the odds are in their favour with the hype reaching all corners of the globe right now. another myspace success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sadie ama – so sure

shola’s little sister had a valuable induction into the industry at an early age, and she’s making some good choices production-wise, collaborating with the likes of kano and terror danjah amongst others. looks and sounds exactly the same – with shola expected to relaunch anytime soon, could be interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

conner reeves – oughtabelaw

irish soul boy who first came to prominence in the late 90s. this track from last year deserved way more attention. possibly one of the breed of artists that has suffered greatly from the download revolution as his image doesn’t quite fit his music. i always think people navigate this poor fit by just grabbing the audio.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

emmanuel and terri walker – flirtin’

always tipped to break through. hopefully it will happen for her before she is talked into a beverley knight-style commercial compromise. this track is from emmanuel‘s 2006 project that featured numerous british soul artists on his productions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

keisha white – open like so

came through around the same time as keyshia cole, and is far more talented, but received about 5% of the promotion. so, keyshia collaborates with p diddy and is set to release her second album whilst keisha‘s future is unknown. harsh. a good example of why leona lewis has been whisked off to the us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nate james – universal

actually received some promotion around his debut in 2005, and it did ok. i’m going to be lazy and say he’s a hybrid of stevie wonder and lenny kravitz and worthy of your attention. hopefully an association with next big thing, sway, will catapult him back into the limelight.

 

 

 

 

 

craig david – seven days with mos def

back in 2000, referring yourself in the third person was even more ridiculous than it is now. the ensuing bo selecta parody may outlive his music in the nation’s consciousness if he doesn’t pull his finger out soon. craig, unfazed, still refers to himself in the third person when appearing on mtv cribs showing us how all his cash has enabled him to construct a state of the art pulling den. no women in sight though, and you can’t swing a jocasi bag round london without hitting someone he’s tried it on with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ms dynamite – fall in love again

made a good contract choice and got the promotion other uk artists would kill for. this resulted in numerous awards for her debut album which, although nice enough, sounds dated only five years later. this track, from her largely ignored second album, will hopefully age a bit better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

spl2rge – scuse me

like unklejam, appear to be on the verge of big things, promotion notwithstanding. i never hold my breath on these things anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

taio cruz – i just wanna know

mario soundalike who can’t be accused of trying to create a british identity. which is fair enough. we don’t want to end up like the irish, who have to be irish all the time.