Monday, 30 October 2017

The best DJ you've (probably) never heard of #9: Slobodan Brkic AKA DJ Brka.

Now before I start I know this is going to be a contentious one as Slobodan is in fact as many of you will know a rather well know DJ. In fact he's something of a legend in certain circles. However, I'm working under the proviso that there are a few folk out there still haven't heard of him yet who deserve to. And even if you're more than familiar with his work, it's still an excuse to go back and listen to some of these, frankly outrageous, mixes!
Slobodan is one of the leading figures in the Serbian music scene, if not in the whole of former-Yugoslavia and has been for some years now. He's one of a handful of promoters, producers, artists and DJ's who've undoubtedly been responsible for Belgrade's rise on the cultural clubbing map of Europe. Running the Disco Not Disco party as well as nights on the Sava river at 20/44 alongside DJ Schwabe, he's hosted most of the preeminent underground talents of the scene. He is a truly uncategorisable DJ with an astonishing knowledge of music, able to weave club sounds, techno, house, weird mutant disco as well as Balearic, cosmic and krautrock effortlessly into the fabric of his sets. This is the REAL underground we're talking about here. If you got a favourite DJ? Chances are that this person most likely played Slobodan's party. That underground party we all want to be a part of, with no sponsors, no guest list, and no musical restrictions.
I'm pretty sure my first taste was either an old mix he did for the Noise In My Head website or a sterling turn on Tim Sweeney's Beats in Space show almost 10 years ago. These sets led me down many a rabbit hole, one of the wonderful musical palces they did take me was to his incredible 'East of Cosmic' trilogy of mixes. Without doubt some of my favourite musical selections that I've been borderline evangelical about banging on relentlessly to anyone who'd listen since I first heard them.
It's this set of mixes that I decided to upload for the purposes of this little piece, as I'm sure that anyone who's not had the pleasure of hearing Slobodan play before will undoubtedly want to seek out any/all recordings of him immediately after listening!
Happy hunting.

Follow 'Disco Not Disco' on Mixcloud, here. 
Interview with Slobodan on Krossfingers, here.

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X

Monday, 2 October 2017

Playtime Paradise!

(This is something of a spiritual successor to the recent 'Fun? Fair?' article I wrote for Ransom Note.)

You could have a fuck-load of fun for a pound when I was a kid. You could buy enough Freddos to induce a mild coma. You could take advantage of the 10 year old me renting out my brothers air pistol for the whole of lunchtime. Or you could have 5-10 goes on a ticket-shitting arcade machine.
These machines were the backbone of my summer trips to Whitley Bay and holidays in Folkstone, Scarborough or similar. I would pester my parents for up to 24 hours a day, and eventually manage to get enough loose change to be able to wander round, honing my skills at ball throwing, thing hitting and general gambling. This tour of the machines would last about three minutes, because I would inevitably lose at everything due to being a stupid uncoordinated kid. On the occasions I did win at these games (about once a year), I’d be rewarded with tickets. These would then be exchanged for things like one fake rubber finger, and a pencil sharpener with ‘Showaddywaddy’ written on it. What more could you want? The best 8 of these games/machines I remember from my childhood years have been compiled for your reading pleasure below. REGARDE!!
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1. Cosmo Gang
Shoot the shit out of aliens before they manage to advance forward and steal your energy packs. Which might actually be their energy packs? I can’t remember. But the more I think about it, we might be the bad guys in all this. Excellent music and sound effects as each alien got shot in their bastard alien face. Those poor aliens. I hope I was proud of myself. I probably was. As far as I'm aware, the ongoing human/alien conflict continues.
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2. Basket Ball Beat The Clock
Not a tribute to Television X’s ten minute freeview. Basket Ball Beat The Clock was actually a ball rolling game similar to Kentucky Derby (I’m getting to that). My memory’s all gone to shit now, but I’m assuming you had to fill up some kind of score meter before the clock ran out. Then you’d beaten the clock. See? If you didn’t manage it, the clock probably punched you in the face. Strangely, the most memorable I remember about this game is that it played Mussorgsky’s 'Promenade' on a loop. photo Pic203..jpg
3. Feed Big Bertha
There’s no other way to say this – this game is about a fat woman who likes to eat balls. Because she’s fat, she does nothing but stand there waiting for you to put her dinner in her lazy fucking gob. I do that too. As Bertha eats balls she gets fatter and fatter until… the game just sort of stops. But if you’ve done well, a load of tickets come out of what I assume is her vaginal area.
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4. Whack-a-mole
It wasn't actually called ‘Whack-a-mole’, it was 'Bash the Beaver' or something like that, but I can't remember the propper name for it so we're going to use the yanks name for it, despite the fact that they're always wrong about everything. Anyhow, in our version, brightly coloured things (lollipops?) come out of random holes just to grief you. You must then show them who’s boss by beating them to death with a hammer.
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5. Kentucky Derby/Arabian Derby
Known in our family as ‘The Donkey Roll’. Similar to Basket Ball Beat The Clock (which I didn’t explain properly above so the comparison is a bit pointless now at this stage). Basically: roll balls, get them in holes, and this makes your horse/camel move forward using technology and magic. Excellent theme tune. What made this game special is the bloodthirsty competitive element. This isn’t just you playing for tickets – this is you playing against a dozen other people, all of whom might be up to 100% better at rolling than you. Therefore it’s completely acceptable and within the spirit of the game to elbow your neighbours, occasionally to bite your neighbours and DEFINITELY use some salty language towards your neighbours. Sadly, there’s nothing you can do about the people who aren’t sitting right next to you, apart from hope they suddenly die, or throw shit at them. photo Pic206..jpg
6. Rocket Ship
This was ace because of all the lights and buttons inside the cockpit – you really felt as if you were on an Apollo mission (not Apollo 13, unless there was a power cut). You sat in the cockpit, held on (if you were a wimp), and the rocket would go up and down while twisting round a bit. This ride gets into the top 8 for its immersive theming (the buttons you could press that went WOOWOOWOOWOO).
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7. Mini Wheel
The object of this game is to sit there going round and round and round and round and round, until your 10p's run out. By the time this happens, there will be a long queue of crying children and angry parents. Ignore them, apart from to ask them if they will give you money for another go. Chances are they’ll say no. No tickets to be won as only a moderate level of skill is involved. photo Pic208..jpg
8. Horse Racing Thing
This had various names, but was generally called something like ‘The Derby’ or ‘Grand National’. It was probably never called ‘Horse racing thing’. You didn’t win tickets, but you did win cold hard cash – sometimes you could win 4p, which was not to be sniffed at. Gameplay was simple – put your money in, pick a horse, then watch the ultra-realistic race play out before your eyes. Different horses had different odds, so some paid out more than others. Having said that, you were never going to be able to retire on the winnings from this game. I wish I could have found some footage of the game to include here, but sadly I fear it would have been missing the all important element of the announcer ordering you to “Place your bets now” while sounding a bit like Stephen Hawking.

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X