Last week, at Heaven Nightclub in London, Night Slugs cohorts Bok Bok & Girl Unit performed what seems to be an increasingly rare feat – a truly live set – without once setting fingers on a computer, tables, or CDJ’s. Forgoing what have truly become the norm in the arena of live electronic music, these brash englishmen instead created every sound live – relying on an arsenal of analogue equipment; an MPC, TR909, Sequential Circuits Drumtraks, Juno 106, Polysix and FX.
It’s a joy to hear these beatsmiths work with and against their equipment – their talents paradoxically limited and enhanced by the constraints of their chosen media. These struggles ensure that the tracks played out aren’t merely facsimile copies of their computer generated brethren – they become as the artists put it “bespoke versions” – tailor made to their equipment’s exacting demands.
Listen, download and enjoy below,
The minds behind Croatia’s Outlook gathering have self-confidently dubbed their brainchild to be “Europe’s leading bass music and sound system culture festival.” Now this may read as just another self-serving and over-zealous sale’s pitch, but I am happy to inform you that most every bit of zeal in this statement is justified. In fact, through a breif calculation of logic, this proclamation may prove even modest;
If Outlook is indeed the leading bass music and sound-system culture fetsival in Europe, which, from my experience, appears to be quite true, and if Europe is the world’s leading continent in that same category, which, again, I can attest to, then Outlook festival may in fact be the leading bass music and sound system culture festival in the world.
Now, this is a bold statement, so let me begin to tell you why I think so:
First off, the event takes place in, on, and around, an abandoned fortress, which, by my degree of knowledge of 18th Century Mediterranean Architecture, is essentially a castle, and not only is a castle one of the most exciting and appropriate settings that I’ve had the opportunity to indulge in a variety of deep sounds and styles, but acoustically speaking, its almost as if those determined Croates of yesteryear built it expressly for the ideal presentation of contemporary bass music.
Speaking of which, the music was thrilling, utterly so, and I know that I stand risk of sounding like a jittering fan-boy, but today that’s something I may very well be.
So, who was good? Jackmaster, playing his typically eclectic mix of dance music – from Usher to Joy O; Scuba, proving he that he was worth his steep price-tag; Sepalcure, Plastician, XXXY, Eliphino, Disclosure, and, of course, Skream with Sgt. Pokes, were all a bonafied pleasure to catch. Also making it into this congratulatory category is Kode9, Loefah, Oneman, Black Acre newcomer, Alby Daniels, Silkie, and Ben UFO; A tip of the hat to all of them.
Some favorites heard from this category:
Now, who was fantastic?
If I had a crown to give, it’d have to go to Addison Groove. He threw down the most exciting set of the weekend; at the end, mixing from his trade-mark grit-house jams, to a combination of Hudmo‘s “CBat” and Earl Sweatshirt‘s “Drop,” and finally into a booty shaking version of The Chordette’s barbershop classic, “Mr. Sandman,” of which I have yet to track down. A round of applause is more than in order for Mr. Groove. If he’s coming to a club near you, do not miss out, just go.
Dark Sky rounded off the Black Acre party on Saturday night, and even from outside the fort, one could tell it was the place to be, with a line-up extending easily over 50 meters out the gate. The beats from their Black Rainbows EP sounded ripe and juicy on the Courtyard system.
The Swamp 81 party was yet another stand-out, with Boddika standing as the personal highlight of the exhibtion, though only just ahead of his more than worthy label mates, Oneman and imprint-boss, Loefah. And since we’re on the topic of dubstep, big ups to Joker for up-staging the DMZ showcase in a big way. Sorry, Mala and Coki, we still love you.
Friday Night at Mungo’s Arena was a breath of fresh for anyone feeling a bit claustrophobic from the prominence of D&B at Outlook. Girl Unit was the highlight of this party. His work on the Club Rez Ep dazzled between the stone walls of the military fort.
Some respect is to be given to trap stalwarts, Baauer and Hudmo, because their numbers, “Harlem Shake,” and “CBat,” were springing up dj’s sets of every genre. Same goes to Julio Bashmore for his summer anthem’s of 2011 and 2012; “Battle For Middle You,” and “Au Seve,” respectively.
So, we’ve run through the good and the grand, but was it a perfect experience? No, of course not. All things are flawed, even the most wonderful.
The major bone I have to pick is with the audience, who whilst being, for the most part, avid fans of these genres, neglected some of the bare necessities of festival etiquette. Muscling belligerently to the front of the bar line was a common activity. Now that I think of it, muscling any where at any time without an excuse me or a patient moment’s wait was standard practice at Outlook. Friends assured me that this was simply the English way of doing things, but I don’t take that as a valid excuse. Thumbs down. Love thy neighbour next time, boys.
The second pickable bone is not necessarily the fault of anyone in particular. It was the simple fact that Mala, Coki, Loefah, and Disclosure, were far from being loud enough at the Harbour stage on Saturday night. The open ocean is no natural amphitheatre. Fortunately, this is where Dimensions Festival comes in.
Opening tonight, Dimensions festival promises an equal if not more impressive line-up of underground artists, an audience of presumably more committed listeners, and lastly, exclusive use of the Fort stages, which means, better sound and smaller venues for bigger artists. Let’s hope it lives up to these other-worldly expectations.
Outlook, thank you. It was a blessing to be a part of. Considering the legend of setting and sound that your team has etched into bass-music’s youthful history, the title of world’s leading bass music and sound system culture festival is yours to loose. Now, to see what your little brother is packing…
See you next year,
Night falls on our valley, and so we march in to the forest to indulge in another evening of sonic surprises. This is the second edition of LOW LIFE’s festival documentation. If you missed it, this is your opportunity to catch up. If you were present, let’s hope this jogs your memory.
DC’s Fort Knox Five brought us world class breaks to accompany late afternoon’s long shadows. These guys have been fine tuning their accessible, and, quite simply, fun style for close to a decade. Enjoy the reconfigured classics offered at their homebase, and enjoy the appropriately triumphant tune below.
Revolution (DC’s Finest Remint) – Fort Knox Five vs. The Beatles [beat] [hip-hop]
Edmonton based Knight Riderz opened our evening with an intricately woven presentation of “crunk” bass. Soothing sub grinds were carefully balanced against delicate harmonies; a perfect segue from dusk to darkness. Bassnectar, Mimosa, an The Glitch Mob have been nodding towards their most recent releases, so maybe you should too. Check out these offerings after heading to Beatport.
Teardrop (Knight Riderz Remix) – Massive Attack [glitch-hop]
French electro-inclined Berliner, Siriusmo, pulled the figurative trigger on Pagoda’s ray gun. Reports of fussy requirements regarding set time, accommodation, and not to mention a strict track-for-purchase policy, were bleached from thought with a clean, yet gnawing, four-on-the-floor exhibition. This gentleman is absolutely one of the best in the game. I highly recommend exploring his lengthy library, but for now, settle for this, his only complimentary item.
Shambhala’s knack for booking swaggering break acts was affirmed once again with DJ Nu-Mark, the maestro behind notorious 90′s hip-hop act, Jurassic Five. As expected, he delivered golden-age beats and tasteful era-erat’s. If you aren’t familiar with this dot-com era doctor of rhythm, get educated.”Fresh and clean, nah mean?”
Nah Mean (DJ Nu-Mark Remix) – Nas and Damian Jr Gong Marley [hip-hop] [recommended]
ill.Gates threw us a curve-ball like he was Sandy Koufax, and if your confused by the sports reference, then your on your way to understanding how it felt to hear Lonely Planet’s “I’m On A Boat,” in The Living Room, arguably Shambhala’s most consistently tasteful stage. This respected producer and educator initiated his set with his signature elastic “wah,” gracing conga-banging, jungle-thumping beats that Donkey Kong himself would be proud of. The MC, equipped with a portable voice modulator, lifted the already bouncing crowd to jovial heights. Then, in an almost mocking manner, he lay down a remix of some weeping, youtubian cat-lover. Strange, but not quite strange enough to extinguish my admiration for his considerable talent. See what “The Phat Conductor,” is up to after sampling some samples.
Fish Paste (ill.Gates Remix) – Die Antwoord [glitch-hop]
Spread Ego (ft. Mycho Pan Cho Cho) – ill.Gates [glitch-hop] [recommended]
Stumbling from the beach, towards Mimosa’s much-anticipated Village set, we coincidentally stumbled upon Aussie, Nick Thayer’s Fractal Forest clear cut. Having no idea whom was playing, we stayed a commodious amount of time because, for lack of a better term, he got the party started. He juggled genres like they were bowling pins, with pop samples that had every tongue on the floor wagging. He should probably play your next birthday party. Purchase his products if you’re feeling it.
Gonna Getcha VIP – Nick Thayer [electro]
If MiMOSA was Poseidon, The Village was his ocean. He had utter control. His sound flowed effortlessly and with force, like a hunting tidal wave. He could torment, stir up dissonance, and proceed to hush the crowd, leaving us suspended, seemingly breathless. Ditching the metaphor, his set was simply dynamic. If you’re curious as to what the future of electronic music is shaping into, keep an eye on this guy. He lives up to the hype.
Days Go By (MiMOSA Remix) – Dirty Vegas [dub] [recommended]
58 Degrees – MiMOSA [dub]
Immediately proceeding was Mr. Troy “Datsik” Beetles, and he most certainly brought his largest of guns. I can’t deny the power of his sound, because it is something to behold, though personally, I expected some growth, perhaps a shy away from the finger-gun “woops,” or some experimentation with some sparser rhythms, but alas, The Village was flattened by his trademark sub-bass swagger. Vancouver dubstep producer, Carnage, called it, “an almost flawless dj set.” Even if you’ve been living under a rock the past year, you’ve most likely the vibrations of this 2010 collaboration to end all collaborations. Take a look at what Datsik is selling if you’re feeling a lack of tremors through your floor boards.
Just a jaunt from The Village sardine can was a private Justin Martin set at Pagoda! Well, not exactly, but the 30 of us had good time, and by good time, I mean that he was absolutely phenomenal. It was haunting, without being to serious about it; “flawless and thumpin’” reports trusted Nelson associate Hank C. To be clear, this is some very good minimal. If you like what you hear, head over to Dirty Bird records and drop some coin.
Nude (Justin Martin Remix) – Radiohead [house] [recommended]
As the sun creeped over the hills, our friends over at Leave Plato’s Cave boogied to the low bounce of Londoner, GIRL UNIT.
“[He] blended the worlds of juke, uk bass, and some fucking jackin’ house like no other.” – Hank C.
Take his word for it, and press the play button on this tasty mix to accompany tonight’s pre-sip, tea-sip, or whatever sipping you plan on engaging in. Then head on over to Night Slug and show them just how much you enjoyed it.
Dollars To Pounds Mix for The FADER – GIRL UNIT [post-dub] [house] [recommended]
You’ve made it; endured till the final click of the clave. Until next time my fellow low lives.
Enjoy you’re knowledge.