Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Nepotism for a better life: Force Majeure.

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In a move to fulfill any outstanding contractual obligations I may have forgotton about in the weeks since we last posted, I thought it best to mention the fact that my close personal friend, young Michael Sweeney aka Force Majeure, who just happens to be one quarter of the mob that I run the Body Talk parties with here in Newcastle has just released a fab new record on the equally fab 'Sulk Magic' imprint, which just happens to be run by Jo 'Bird of Paradise' Howard, who is also one quarter of the mob that I run the aforementioned Body Talk parties with! (I assume Clark, the remaining piece of the Body Talk puzzle has been up to something equally exciting all this time, too).
The title track 'Overawed' mesmerises with it's low-slung undulating electronics, acid flashes and arpeggio rhythms. A certified 3 AM, red light burner. 'Cheap Thrills' then accelerates proceedings with unfussy drums and robotic, bleep heavy melodies driving it off into a wonderfully off kilter, left of field crescendo. The release comes with heavyweight support from a host of positively wondrous folk the likes of Chloe, Jason Kendig, Reza Athar, Fairmont, Inigo Vontier, Tim 'Heretic' Clerkin, and has a hefty remix package featuring re-rubs from  Damon Jee, Jamie Blanco and label boss Bird Of Paradise himself. You can buy 'Overawed' on Juno, here.

Oh aye, not content with knocking great records out at the drop of a hat, our Michael has also been busying himself on the old 1's and 2's recently. He's recorded a cracking new mix for the good folk at the 44,100Hz Social Club too which you can listen too and download right here!

Follow Force Majeure on Facebook, here.
Follow Force Majeure on Soundcloud, here.

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Thoughts On Love And Smoking Podcast #17 * Zootime Edit.

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It's always nice to get something great which has been unsolicited. For approximately every 10,000 "Yo! Check out my mixtape!" messages I recieve, it appears that around 2 are listenable and only 1 is any good. This mix from mysterious Dutch DJ/producer 'Zootime Edit' fits firmly into the later category. A welcome surprise which I'm more than happy to chuck into the TOLAS podcast cannon.
In his own words, "I'm Vincent, zOoTiMe, dj, producer and video ediTor, living in the nothern rural part of the Neverlands caLLed Fryslan. There's aloT that enthousiams me, not gonna go there. Enjoy ze thoughts, PEACE!"
Drawing his influences from diverse artists such as Charles Bals, Albion, Jan Schulte, Hans Reuschl, Danny Wolfers as well as the Commodore Amiga 500, he's released records on a number of industry heavyweights like Nein Records and my old mate and sometime studio partner Mick Clarke's label, Flight Recorder.

The mix itself is a real beauty. Ducking and weaving across countless genres maintaining an impressive energy level without wearing the listener out and leaving you breathless. It showcases a real love of all music and a lightness of touch sometimes missing in the days increasingly dominated by heavy electronica and bludgeoning house. But don't take our word for it. Sit back in the sun and let this one wash over you. Cool waves. X

Follow Zootime Edit on Soundcloud, here.
Check out his Youtube channel, here.

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X

Monday, 5 June 2017

Oli Warriner * Humans Go Hungry EP.

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A light sprinkling of nepotism never did anyone any harm, and as such we we're more than happy to find that fellow Northerner and close friend of TOLAS Oli Warriner, was returning to the Night Noise label to release his frankly wonderful new EP 'Humans Go Hungry' later this month so we could indulge in some fawning praise for the fellow Newcastle native.
Oli has managed to take time out from his busy DJing schedule to put together a suitably large and ambitious release full of twists, turns and all kinds of digital surprises along the way. As cerebral as it is energetic, the package unfolds over 6 tracks of electronic lushness with remixes coming in the hirsute form of Ian Blevins, the moody guise of Jo 'Bird Of Paradise' Howard and rising star Buran (who also follows this remix very soon with a full release on Night Noise).

Humans Go Hungry by Oli Warriner is released on June 19th .

Check out Oli's other work on Soundcloud, here.

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X

Friday, 12 May 2017

Thoughts On Love Smoking Podcast #16. Headman/Robi Insinna (Relish)

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The work of Artist, DJ, producer and Relish label owner Robi Insinna will no doubt be familiar to anyone reading this. Alongside seminal artists like LCD Soundsystem, Soulwax, Black Strobe and Trevor Jackson's criminally underrated Playgroup project, Robi in his Headman alias helped forge the early 2000's disco-punk aesthetic. His debut single 'It Rough', and it's plethora of remixes released way back in 2001 on Gomma was one of the tracks responsible for the whole scratchy post-punk electro scene which pretty much dominated club and fashion culture at that time. He started the Relish label soon afterwards initially to function as the home to his Manhead alter ego and as a reaction to his many trips round Europe digging for records when he had constantly discovered new labels and artists from the late 70’s and early 80’s and had a vision to create something that combined all his passions of music, visuals and style.
It's this passion for aesthetics which was the thread that tied his work together and marked the label out as something a little different from a lot of the more throwaway moments from that scene. Robi's recordings and his nascent Relish label had an artistic premise behind them which was perhaps lacking in the other one-man labels. Since then Robi's career has gone stratospheric, DJing across the world producing and remixing the likes of Roxy Music, The Gossip, Franz Ferdinand, Richard Fearless, Nitzer Ebb, The Units, Unknown Cases, A Certain Ratio,  Gina X and Klein & M.B.O to name check just a handful. As well as that he's released 5 critically acclaimed solo albums under his Headman alias and another record as Manhead.
Relish still paints itself as somewhat of a project rather than a label, with a defined ethos. The last Headman album came in an artbook format, Screenprinted and hand numbered in a limited edition of 100 and The 6 EP III, released in 2015 with its accompanying prints and visuals is a prime example of Robi and Relish's mission statement.
After a rich run of form last year, peppering 2016 with some of it's most solid dancefloor moments 2017 is turning out to be yet another year of note with the release of the second 'Best Of Relish' compilation and French wunderkind Mondowski's second Relish single 'Surfin' Hell' last month, the much in demand producer and selector follows those up with the latest roundup from his ever essential label on Relish Vol 5 on the 23rd of June. There's no rest for the wicked or the wickedly talented it seems!

And so we come to the meat and bones of this thing. The mix! We've been talking to Robi about things for a while now and him putting something together for the podcast series. We thought it would be cool to do something a bit different for a change and as such, Robi has very kindly recorded a recent live set he played in Berlin @ Griesm├╝hle for the WRONG ERA party on the 15th April. We're over the moon that Robi took time out and recorded this specially for us and even happier that it's an absolute killer of a mix!!
Dive in!! X

As usual, due to Soundcloud beeing moody with allowing downloads, you can grab the mix (and all our other podcasts) from our site, below....

Follow Headman/Relish on Soundcloud, here.
Check out the Relish website, here.
Headman/Relish on Facebook.

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Bullshit the media blames on the working classes: #1 Racism.

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Occasionally you come face to face with an argument that riles you in its offensive stupidity before you can quite pinpoint exactly why. This particular argument comes up a lot, in one form or another: “immigration is rough on working class people; rich people like having nannies and gardeners and cheap food, but working class people are pissed off that the foreigners took their jobs. I’m personally not one of those nasty intolerant people, but won’t someone think of the poor working class people, it’s a lot for them to cope with.”
We see it from both sides of the political divide; we see it in the way the EDL are mocked more for their bad spelling and bad haircuts than for their fascism. We see it in the constant assertions from the media that there’s some innate conflict for the Labour party over immigration; the liberal bisexual hippy woman Guardian reader in Islington versus the traditional working class white man on a council estate dichotomy. (There are clearly no bisexuals, women, non-white people or hippies in council estates. Nor are there any racists in Islington. Media fact for you.)
Julia Hartley-Brewer from the Daily Express came out it with again on Question Time last month, but it’s not even her comment that’s triggered this post, really. It’s only because she put it in such honest language that the full offensive absurdity of it hit me. I’ve been feeling my skin crawl when people on the left and the right have implied the very same things for a long time.
We need to stop accepting the simplistic assumption that racism and xenophobia are somehow working class phenomena when in fact these things are top down evils. There’s plenty of both among journalists and media owners, many with salaries north of £100,000 a year, wealthy MPs, and even the very pinnacle of the British class system – the Royal Family.
It’s also the narrow dismissal of what immigrants bring to the country – indeed, the implicit conditionality of a migrant’s humanity being founded in what they “bring” to the country, for “our” benefit – that irks me. The insinuation that you’d only be pro-immigration if you had an immigrant as a gardener, but not if you had immigrants in your class at school or in your local A&E or living in your street is saying that immigrant communities are great at making exotic food and make lovely nannies, but they’re not so jolly to actually live alongside. That is a profoundly unpleasant thing to say. Maybe your best friend at school is an immigrant, or the child of an immigrant. Maybe your neighbour who feeds your cat when you’re away is an immigrant. Maybe your partner is an immigrant. But these experiences are all erased by that kind of rhetoric.
It reminds me of Richard Littlejohn’s sneering assertion that Jack Monroe couldn’t possibly be working class or be making cheap simple recipes that are useful to people without much money because poor people “don’t eat pasta, they eat spaghetti out of tins.” In other words, if you don’t fit the stereotype of what an extremely rich journalist, who mostly lives in a different country anyway, thinks a poor British person must live like, then you’re clearly some kind of fraud. That is a very special level of arrogance.
I am tired of seeing rich people project their own xenophobia and racism on to working class people. Can’t they at least take responsibility for it?
Are there racist working class people? Obviously. To say nothing of the fact that people have complex, nuanced views about things. People may think immigration is too high in some areas but low in others. People may think immigration should be recorded better but not necessarily cut. People may think immigration would be fine if minimum wage regulations were always enforced but find it hard to believe that is a reality that will ever materialise. But racism is top down, and it always has been. Is racism and xenophobia uniquely working class, or even disproportionately working class? No.
We might instead ask: does immigration disproportionately have a negative impact on working class people and poorer communities? Yes, it probably does. In fact, it would be surprising if it didn’t because pretty much everything else does. Of course working class people aren’t sharing equally in the economic benefits that immigration brings. That’s hardly a problem with immigration. It’s a problem with economics.
Perhaps that’s the thing that’s really enraging to me. The fact that a whole class of people can notice how immigration impacts the guy living on a council estate much more harshly than a wealthy lady living in Kensington, then identify the problem as immigration, not the differences in the lives and opportunities between those two individuals.
After all, if you took away all the immigration from Britain, those two hypothetical lives would still be grossly unequal. But if you tackled the inequalities between them, you might just mitigate some of these so-called “problems” with immigration at the same time. Radical I know, but maybe that is where our anger should be directed.

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Thoughts On Love Smoking Podcast #15. Robert Bergman (Rush Hour/Dekmantel)

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Robert Bergman is your favourite DJ’s favourite DJ, or so his tongue in cheek biography reads. But all jokes aside, it’s not far off the mark at least in Amsterdam . A mainstay of the cities vibrant club culture, Robert brings a huge amount of experience to the (turn)table. A local lad and lynchpin at one of Amsterdam's (as well as Europe's) premier record shops, Rush Hour and member of the Dekmantel line up since 2013, Robert has also been a regular guest playing at the likes of Trouw and De School, raising eyebrows and carving out something of the reputation as one of the scene's more forward looking selectors.

Growing up as a music obsessed kid in Holland and finding himself spending an unhealthy amount of time in Rush Hour refusing to leave their store, he ended up becoming something of a protege of the label's Amsterdam shop – so much so that they eventually gave him a job. Since then Robert has continued to feed his insatiable thirst for music in all shapes and forms, becoming an incredibly knowledgeable crate-digger and well-respected DJ in the process. He regularly plays at clubs and festivals all over the world with the Rush Hour crew and recently, after releasing on cult labels like Trilogy Tapes, Dog In The Night and Clone he's been stepping up his work in the studio too launching a new imprint 'Brew' to house his weird and wonderful analogue techno with the first couple of releases coming from Bergman himself. Crucially, his sets always push the boundaries of what is considered club music. A skill he acquired while collecting insane amounts of music.
Robert's life really is music. He produces, collects, DJs and studies music and he is opinionated; the guy actually graduated in musicology while partying at ADE. There are no restrictions in what he loves, as long as it is good. He's just constantly making a noise that he wants you to love and this passion is more than apparent in the wonderful cosmic journey around the sci-fi tinged corners of his record collection which he's put together with this utterly sublime mix for us.

Simply press play and blow your mind. X

Due to Soundcloud being a dick, you can now download the mix, as well as all our previous podcasts, from our page below. X

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Wilkins/Smagghe/Channeling/World Domination/Tea/Biscuits/Etc.

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I’m not a fan of radio. Anyone will tell yer! They’ll say….”Phyllis, he doesn’t like the radio”, pointing in my direction and jabbing to make the point stick. I’ll nod, pull up a chair, and sit on it backwards, telling them why. I don’t like people talking over music. I don’t like most music. And I don’t like the public, at least the public who phone in to talk about their boring lives and try to win a day off with Sam Sparrow. I don’t know what that means really.
I’d like radio more if it was presented in a style I liked and appreciated. As in, deranged, cruel, dark, horrifying.
“That was the barking dogs hour – 60 minutes of the best barking dog noises, all hour. Uninterrupted mate, uninterrupted. That particular hour contained doberman, daschunds, German Sheperds, all of ’em. All of ’em. I’m Benny Chipotle, and you’re listening to Flap FM.
Coming up! Your shit phonecalls, wasted time and effort for nothing. Call in and tell me what you’re doing and I’ll pretend to care, which I don’t. Here’s a new one; it’s four minutes of a dot matrix printer printing out a nude picture of a woman. Fuck off."
If radio was more like that I'd likely be an avid listener. With that in mind, one of the only broadcasts that I do deign to spend my incredibly precious time listening are Wilkins & Smagghe's twice monthly excursions into audio self indulgence on NTS 'Channeling'. As such, my interest levels were suitably piqued when this brace of beauties popped up pon di old Mixcloud platform this morning complete with a few words of explanation from the lad Wilkins himself. Regardez ci-dessous vos imb├ęciles...

"A few years ago, Ivan Smagghe and myself had ambition... We wanted to rule the world, or at least get out of bed. Hence an idea that no one had before: "why don't we make a double CD mixed compilation that will show our eclectic tastes to the world, like a beacon of light in a sea of "cheeky tech house". But then we went for a walk, bought some shoes or something, and forgot. Rest assured, the compilation project is still being worked on but it's a tough world out there. So we decided to give out those two "snapshot of an era" mixes as our tastes are ever changing. This was the first year of Channeling, Hawkwind obsession, Vladimir and Yugoslavian influences, The Family of God and others, a couple of edits. We hope you enjoy the time machine trip..."

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X