Transcend Space in Max Cooper's 'Veil of Time' Film
Max Cooper rounded off the year with one last innovative release in the form of 4-track 'World Passing By' EP. As usual, the British producer breaks beyond the boundaries of traditional techno. Intricate layers of gritty percussion line the walls of this well-rounded work of art. As the year comes to a close, Cooper fills out his release assets with a unique visual collaboration with Irish-based Kevin McGloughlin.
I wanted to try and convey this inescapable and consuming nature of time, as well as its role in facilitating beauty through a simple process of change.
A familiar pairing, the works of these two are no stranger. In 2016, they made 'Waves' with a minimalist visual for Cooper's techy original. Known as a multimedia artist, rather than a singular music producer, the Max Cooper project is a journey through sights, sounds, and space.
As 2017 completes another groundbreaking year for the artist of many forms, we can only imagine the future will bring innovation beyond our wildest dreams. Stretching the boundaries of underground sounds and commercial appeal, Cooper's rare approach to live-esque electronica is a beacon of hope in a dreary industry of copycats.
Max Cooper - Veil of Time - Official Video by Kevin McGloughlin from Max Cooper on Vimeo.
Interview: Fantastic Twins has an Analog Agenda in Modern Techno
Curating a movement through art is no easy feat. Pushing sounds out of the rack or twisting knobs on a mix board maybe where all musicians start, but the good ones deliver in a deeper, darker, and thoroughly intimate relationships with their craft. It's clear to hear this attention to detail in French transplant Julienne Dessagne's production. As half of the somber techno/pop duo Saschienne, Dessagne has already made waves in underground music and it was just the beginning. Blending the boundaries between genre, Julienne's alter ego 'Fantastic Twins' is a stylish French take on alternative pop meeting the power of German analog and percussion.
As Julienne continues to explore the alternative techno through the lens of Fantastic Twins, she's in good company. Bouncing between the catalogs of the Pachanga Boys' Hippie Dance and Glasgow's techno innovator Optimo Music, the Fantastic Twins project has quite the growing crate. Add a recently-revived live show to the mix, and this project is set to change the way we look at techno, composition, and underground music as a whole.
Around the announcement of her upcoming vinyl on Optimo, we asked a few questions about the Fantastic Twins project. Digging deep on analog influence and a critical approach to production, it's clear that Julienne is the talent that electronic music needs right now.
Your bio reads ‘she likes to conjure up massive synth drones and swooping vocal textures’, sounds somewhere between a witches cauldron and a delicate oil painting. What influences have led to the sound that is Fantastic Twins?The music I like and listen to reaches into a very broad scope of musical genres. I’m not a purist, I enjoy diversity. Being open-minded about music and not caring about established categories certainly influences me in many ways and somehow imprints itself on my own music. Having said that, when I’m in my studio, I never think about other people’s music. I prefer to use that moment to make space for new ideas. Influences are only good if you’re able to break free from them. The age of the laptop producer has resulted in heaps of low quality production, Fantastic Twins records are always clearly top notch. What tools do you use that keep your output at the highest level?I’m glad people see it that way but I personally feel the need to improve myself a lot more on the technical side of things. I love instruments and analogue sound like most people do, but here again, I’m not a purist, I happily combine it with software if that helps me getting where I want to go. I like to transform sounds, use tools for other purposes than what they are initially designed for. Now, beyond that, I think what might make a difference is that I’m not rushing to release music just for the sake of it. I give my music the time it needs and I do not release it unless I’m 100% convinced it is worth it. You’ve primarily been releasing on Optimo and Hippie Dance, how have these influential founders and forward thinking crews help you curate the Fantastic Twins project and sound?They play a huge part. I’m alone when I make music but it doesn’t make it less of a team work. I’ve had immense support from my friends Superpitcher and Rebolledo of Hippie Dance and from Keith McIvor (aka JD Twitch) of Optimo Music. They have been following my work closely since the very beginning, trusted me and allowed me to put my music out, Superpitcher motivated me countless times when I faced creative blockages and inspires me all the time. Optimo has had a huge influence on me, I was lucky to live in Glasgow at the time Keith and Jonnie had their legendary “Optimo Espacio” party running there weekly. I owe them most of my musical education. And beyond the friendships - they hear interesting things in my music that I personally wouldn’t hear since I’m so self-critical towards myself and I would tend to dump most of my work in the trash if these guys were not here. I’m even more grateful that the people who support me the most also happen to be the artists I respect and admire the most. Your latest EP recently hit the shelves from Hippie Dance. ‘The New You’ is a journey through quite the diverse range of analog composition. What’s the story behind the EP?Each track on the EP is a story on its own but the common thread is maybe the attempt of exploring new paths and the journey that resulted out of it. My first two EPs were well received and when I started working on that new one I was very anxious, I didn’t want to replicate what I did before, I didn’t want my music to become predictable. So I had to dig into myself - or myselves - and didn’t stop looking until I found what I wanted. It took me months to produce that EP and it was no easy ride. In the end, what these four tracks perhaps ironically say is that no one can tell what is “the new me”. Over the years, at least a few of your records have been pressed to wax. How important is format and the culture behind vinyl DJing to you?Once again, no purism here and I’m not a crate digger, but having my music pressed on vinyl does obviously really matters to me. I give a lot of attention to the artwork, it’s a phase of the creative process I enjoy a lot because I get to work with other people and it fascinates me to see how they picture my music and translate it into something visual. And eventually, as an producer, being able to hold a finished object in your hands makes you realise you’ve done something real, it’s a great feeling.You recently stepped back onto the stage after almost 3 years, what can you say about your return as a live act?Yes, I’ve just premiered my live show in Cologne, it was quite scary but very exciting too. I’ve got a brand new set in which I’m performing “The New You” Ep along with some unreleased material. I’m generally more of a studio rat but I must admit that the energy you get from the stage and in interaction with the crowd has that supernatural thing about it that does trigger up my adrenaline levels. So I’ll be touring in the next months until I feel it’s time to take a holiday again from the stage. A live set is a work-in-progress but at some point it reaches a phase where you feel you’re stagnating, so then it’s time to step out for a bit and come back only when you have something new to say. What next on the agenda for Fantastic Twins, where is the project heading creatively?I’m about to release an album on Optimo Music in October. It is a soundtrack I created for a piece of contemporary dance two years ago and was originally conceived as music for children. It’s very different from my previous work and a few people might feel a bit disoriented but that project means a lot to me and I couldn’t be happier to see it coming out on Optimo Music. Besides, I’m starting to work on new music, a few collaborations and remixes. And I’ll be touring my with live show in the next few months.
Kölsch Solidifies a Legacy in Final Part of Kompakt Trilogy
In a dance music climate where overnight internet fame is tolerated, it's refreshing to see quality still breaking through persistence. Danish producer Kölsch has steadily worked his way into the upper echelon of underground sounds with attention to detail in both sound and image. Finding a home with the German tastemakers Kompakt Recs, both artist and label have grown in their own way. Always hitting the mark in today's ever-changing house and techno landscape, this artist along with the help of the label have carved out the face of tomorrow's dance music headliner. Today Kölsch finds himself headline the main stage, landing magazine covers, and building a legacy in electronic music.
This project, at least ten years in the making, channel a life of a musician, human, and digital native. Started by revisiting early childhood memories in the 2013 release '1977' (the year of his birth), Kölsch and Kompakt started on a trilogy that is as impactful as it is innovative. He then looked back at his travels around Europe and introduction to underground culture in 2015 album '1983'. Now, Rune Reilly Kölsch's latest full-length '1989' focuses on his turbulent early-teenage years. An autobiography in its entirety, this act is still an unfinished story.
Spinning through the thirteen emotic tracks, the album presents a cinematic journey through electronic production and human struggle. Energetic dance floor records like 'In Bottles' pair a vocal (by Aurora) with entrancing leads for a Balearic vibe fit for open air. On the other end of the board, synth-wielding 'PUSH', delivers a cosmic blast of acid techno. The bakers dozen uncovers corners of underground techno hidden in an uplifting vivd composition.
From Gus Gus to Flume, Kölsch has proven his prowess on the remix side. This adds to a deep crate of originals on Kompakt over the years. It's not often you seen and artist/label relationship like this. As the sound of Kölsch matured, as did the Cologne-based label. Moving from an underground trendsetter to respect techno innovators influencing the entire dance industry. This loyalty on both sides is what all should strive for in a healthy and growing distribution partnership. The results are easy to see as Kölsch stands at the top of European club music.
Is West Coast House A Sign of Pivot in Dance Music?
The crew a Mixmag recently pulled out the ol' voting booths and looks on the DJ Mag Top 100 and RA Poll to present a new type of fan vote. Dubbing the 'label of the decade' some months of promo really built the hype on this one. Matched up against Euro heavyweights and Detroit legends who topped the bill? None other than Dirtybird, feel-good house innovators from Nor Cal took the crown. This San Francisco-based crew has stormed the world with a unique original sound that some could even call a genre.
It's a bold statement when the most influential label of the last ten years comes from a town that some could argue is second tier for techno and house. Though the Bay Area centerpiece subtly executed some of America's most iconic raves during electronic's stateside resurgence in the 90's; San Francisco doesn't necessarily strike as a hotbed for main stage talent. Founder Claude Von Stroke and his tight knit team of house fanatics are changing this game by defining the sound for their city and influencing dance floors across the globe.
Quite honestly their spot at the top first case as a surprise. Measured up against the German quiver of Berghain local labels, UK's dance prince's of the Hot Creation team, electronic innovators like R&S, and even commercial dance staples like Defected, do they compare? After split second to consider this blasphemy, the answer is a resounding hell yes. Though these others have undoubtedly made their name on dance, none have the grassroots connecting team Dirtybird has used to take the dance floor disciples to borderline cult status.
Influenced by the streets of San Francisco, this label built a sound on a community, not the other way around. Fueled by a passion for house and an intimate relationship with hip hop, the Dirtybird crew was the first to give these genres and elegant relationship on the dance floor. Not interested in the glitz or glamor of club culture, the sound parallels a diverse vibe of inclusion. What started as a grill and a sound system in the local park, has become a global lifestyle of a casual approach to house music. Dirtybird is definitely more than a number one label, they're a sustainable way of life for dance music.
In an industry stifled by a rigid approach to nightlight, the new wave of crews like Dirtybird has stripped the dress code and made it all about the music. This refreshing take on club culture goes back to the roots of rave. Equality on the dance floor and immersion in the music, leaders like Claude and team are ushering in the next phase of dance evolution.
Bring On the Weekend with this Wax Mix from Eric Cloutier
We're a sucker for good Dj set and this one by Eric Cloutier definitely does the trick. All vinyl and mostly house the Detroit native and Berlin based selektor supplies the perfect soundtrack to a sunny afternoon. As a global influence on underground sound and the art of DJing, Eric is a driving force as a trendsetter and tastemaker.
As a career DJ, Cloutier has put the decks first. Prioritizing the art of selection above studio prowess, this Motor City kid was bred in the midst of techno royalty. Founder of the recently-launched Palinoia Records, Eric's impact on electronic production is just gearing up. Known for a particularly cosmic style of acid-like techno, entrancing sets by this expat fit right in with the German underground.
This three hour tour of wax was taped at Berlin's ://about.blank space. The 'formerly illegal' club is an endless maze of techno which opens their summer patio for the DJ elite. This extended set is a shining example of the city's magical sounds. Hit follow on Eric, because there is much more to come.
Vinyl Fix: Holiday Crate Digging on the Isle of Ibiza
Now that Ibiza has become the hub for every dance punter in the northern hemisphere, there are few places to escape the zoo. Though the club-nights still host the best of the best in house and techno, dance floors and beaches are invaded by a suffocating blend of bros and bimbos. What's better than escaping the madness to fill your suitcase with crate finds. You may need to pay overage fees on the ride hope but they won't compare to the vodka soda prices you paid on the dance floor. Even though the town doesn't have too much in terms of wax shops, here are a few to get ya started.
Not exclusively a record shop, but this small outfit in town embodies the island vibe while stocking a stellar mix of house records from near and far. While browsing their collection of 90s-esque party wear, it's evident that the throwback style of Dacha is taken from the island hay day. Looking like they stole Seth Troxler's suitcase, the busy button ups pair will with funky wax cuts. If you're willing to brave the streets of town,
Just a few blocks away lies the intimate Can Vinilo. Our pick for 'most likely to see a famous DJ', this shop packs heat. They teamed up with Richie Hawtin last year to demo his Model1 mixer so it's safe to say the industry supports this Ibiza town shop.
One of the classics, this long-running record store may not stock the latest Berlin hits but they definitely embody the White Isle's vibe. A strong supporter of many artists who have been returning for decades, this classic name is still hanging on.
Layover Bonus: Discos Paradiso, Barcelona
If you're coming in from a long haul, changes are you may have a few hours in Barca. You could head to Baja Beach club to crack a cold one with boys OR you could snag some wax. Discos Paradiso stocks a wide range of both new and used vinyl on it's racks and on the web. One for the crate diggers, you may find some classy cuts of retro Balearic sound.
It's that time of the year wax fiends, Record Store Day is upon us. The weather is heating up as Spring hints Summer and it's prime time to hit the streets on the hunt for crate finds. Record stores are an essential part of the journey that is a release. Naturally, local influencers, core shops grab exclusive access to wax-only records that no one wants to miss. Whether you're stocking up on rare disco cuts or snagging the newest Berlin import, April 22 is the day to dig. If you haven't walked away from this weekend with some movement in your crate you're probably not doing it right. Get out there are support those who deliver (literally), here are some ideas of what to hit on Saturday.
Start At Your Regular Spots
Everyone has something going down for RSD so the chances are your local shops has some fresh finds. Whether it's deals on existing inventory, live DJs sets, or exclusive releases; we bet you will find something new at your neighborhood record shop. Tell your friends to drop by and help those guys grow and flourish. Supporting and sharing your favorite shop is a great way to build a vinyl community. Share the wax.
Head Somewhere New
Any major city has more than a handful of wax store and unless you're a daily digger, chances are you haven't been to all of them. Today's the day to head to a different hood and link up with fellow vinyl. Bring a crate to go in case of any swaps going on, you're sure to find someone up for the trade. With the recent resurgence of wax consumer, record store ownership is actually a viable small business choice. Help those adding to the culture and build your collection somewhere else for a change.
Hit Up the Second Hand Stand
Veteran record collectors all attest to the wax gold found in the haystack of a second-hand stand. Saturdays are prime time for flea markets, search for your nearby organic yuppie spot and record stand is probably nearby. We've all heard stories of the white whales swimming among the dusty crates beneath a tent. Lather on the sunscreen, locate the food truck that sells booze and flip through those bruised covers to find groove gold in this record store alternative.
Swap a Record with A Friend or.... Anyone
Sharing is caring and nothing's better that a good old fashioned record swap. The life of a record is all about the journey. Through flight cases and shop shelves, any given wax can make the rounds across cities, countries, and continents. Help share the wealth of a good find and pass it on. These days you don't even have to leave your couch as Facebook boast heaps of groups made for the swap.
If you dig the hunt and support underground vinyl DJ artists, connect and collaborate near and far. Record Store day isn't about genres or black jeans, make sure to keep your ears open. Happy diggin'
We all know the story of techno's humble origins on Detroit's industrial streetcorners. Motor city's roots factory roots curated the sound that would make its way across oceans and back. This laid the foundation for modern rave counter culture. The sound of Detroit techno has been through more than one round of refinement over the past 40 years. Spanning the range of electronic history, we can confidently say that the original innovators from the Michigan factory town have paved the way for club music as experienced today. The driving kicks and cosmic leads of techno all came from somewhere. Decades of obedient assembly line industry has unintentionally bred an alternative culture that's anything but conformity.
The Belleville Three and the Founding of Techno
The sounds of early productions from techno's founding trio were a cosmic-driven combination of synthesizers and samples all forced into the mix with turntable culture. Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May cut the first tracks as collisions between Kraftwerk leads and Prince vocals. The mechanical sounds of early Detroit electronic reflected the post-industrial monotony of the time. Techno arrived at nearly the same time as disco became house (just down the road in Chicago). The Belleville Three added their own mechanical take on the emerging club sound bred from the factory. The obsession with futuristic sounds of machinery are evident in early pressings on Atkin's label Deep Space Soundworks. After selling 15,00 copies of Cybotron's first single 'Alleys of you Mind', the sound was firmly embedded in the scene as a catalyst for club culture. Offering a modern alternative to the dive clubs of Detriot, techno grew through club collaboration and a myriad of local labels.
The Second Wave
By the late 80s, the sound built in Detroit had gone global. Those records first produced by the Belleville Three were finding their way into crates and clubs as turntablism became the output format for all things electronic. A new age of Detroit producers found their sound in the sets of the founding fathers at local venues like the Shelter and the Music Institute. House had already made the jump to Europe and the Detroit sound was packaged and ready to go. The sophomore class of techno embraced the genre's fight; revitalizing the hardcore edge of industrialism to the ever-expanding techno scene. Those who had flocked to the dance floor for sets by Atkins, Saunderson, and May were now in the studio with a catalog of their own. Icons like Jeff Mills, Carl Craig, and Richie Hawtin pushed the boundaries of their predecessors armed with labels of their own.
A Global Sound
Throughout the EDM fiasco, the genre from Detroit has retained its poise. Adopted and adapted by techno's sister city Berlin, the culture surrounding the sound has gone much further than synthesizers and independent labels. Arguably the most notable techno event in the world, Detroit Electronic Music Festival continues to champion the underground. Techno selektas from across the globe descend to pay hommage on Motor City's hallowed ground. It's times like these that showcase the Movement that a select few built.
The legacy of Detroit is strong in today's global dance community. Driven from warehouse culture, these industrial sounds are the anthem of nacht. Artist-driven labels and collectives deliver the sound and experience on a level that's out of this world. Broken down, the Detroit sound is more than just that, it's a movement.
It's been just over a year since British producer Fort Romeau launched Cin Cin and the low-key label is still a hidden gem in forward-thinking house music. Part of the crew that reinventing house by weaving classic Chicago vibes with a self-proclaimed style of 'Discotheque music'. As the label approaches its sixth release Cin Cin's split EP format is a favorite find in select shops across the globe.
Without a defined format or sound, the release hand picked by Fort Romeau and London industry head Ali Tillett come from the full spectrum of unique artists. The boss himself has led the catalog with two of the EPs under his own project. Each of the twenty records released to date boasts a powerful low end punch giving the catalogue a firm spot on the dance floor.
Admitting to no particular path, Cin Cin's records embody a particularly futuristic take of analog style. A great example of the contradiction is Ripperton's elegantly simple single 'Michelada' carries a classic house meter yet a freshly cut voice. As evident across the five label releases, the split EP format teams emerging names with circuit vets for an attractive sleeve in any crate (in Ripperton's case the mysterious synths of V).
The winning formula for success isn't a complex recipe. Proven to be innovative by paving their own path, the growing crew that is Cin Cin offer a refreshing alternative to constricted sound of today's branded label. As 2017 unveils uncharted territory for tastemaker electronica, those who live outside the boundaries promise to lead the future. As techno culture teeters toward couture, the familiar tones laced throughout Fort Romeau's intricate take on house fit right in.
Impact: The Best Underground Record Labels that Led 2016
For decades the label has been the center of the music distribution ecosystem. Armed with media connects, sales networks, and marketing prowess the label entity became an essential driver for a hit release. The digital revolution has changed that in some ways, but shipping records is still no easy feat.
The modern day dance label has become the reliable symbol of taste in an oversaturated market. Offer a branded seal of approval on choice selekts, techno and house imprints in the analog space are fueled by Pitchfork reviews and list spots.
The duo behind 2MR have decades of dance and a strong resume of label leadership under their belt yet continue keep in fresh with their latest project. Italian's Do It Better's Mike Simonetti moves to green pastures teaming up with Captured Tracks' Mike Sniper and the result is better than you'd expect. As they hit the label's two year mark, 2MR is just shy of twenty releases. Consistently supported across the blog elite. After spreading the word about Kedr Livanskiy last year, the label hit 2016 hard with a healthy dose of electronic of all forms..
Just hitting the two year mark on her label project, Nina Kraviz's Trip Recording continues to deliver an eclectic mix of forward-thinking acid and alternative techno. Iceland's Bjarki was a main attractions with a variety of melodic releases throughout the year. Trip complimented his tunes with a few triple 12" releases for a solid crate in 16'.
Welcome release from fresh artists as well as old friends, the Milan-based tastemakers offered a dark look at techno. Crossing bold vocals with warm synths, the sound of Just This is an entrancing and methodical take on attractive dance floor sounds. Hear from the blog pages to the Boiler Room this label made waves of classy techno through Europe and beyond.