0018 // Ill Life
Cambridge may seem like an unlikely hub for raw, industrial tinged Techno, however with talent such as Samuel Iliffe aka ‘Ill Life’ (as well as his contemporary Metrist) hailing from the city we’re certainly not complaining.
With the now London residing artist’s debut EP, set to surface on Infinite Machine next month, we decided it’d be a fitting time to bring you an exclusive mix from the man himself, crossing a range of deeply textured, warped Techno.
- #.4.26. // Whativa [Frozen Border]
- Metrist // ??? [Unreleased]
- Kommune1 // Mitternacht [Forthcoming GND Records]
- Kamikaze Space Program // Cassini [Deca Records]
- JoeFarr // Bound [Unreleased]
- Icicle // Condense [Shogun audio]
- Ill Life // Come Out [forthcoming Infinite Machine]
- Samuli Kemppi // Bang [M REC]
- Traversable Wormhole // Closed Timelike Curve (Marcel Dettman Remix) [CLR]
- Subjected // Rancor [VAULT]
- Metrist // ??? [Unreleased]
- Henja // Macha [forthcoming NORD Records]
- Marcel Fengler // Enigma [Ostgut Ton]
- ??? // ??? [Unreleased]
- NT89 // Deflector [Unreleased]
- Happa // It Has What You Lack [Unreleased]
- ??? // ??? [Unreleased]
Various // Sleaze Select Vol.1
Label: Sleaze Records
Release Date: 20/05/2013
This is the eightieth release for Scottish label Sleaze Records and it is an excursion into deeply immersive, dance floor Techno. The label is as consistent as it is exciting, and a firm favourite over here at Stray Landings. The only issue we have is keeping up to date with the label’s prolific releases schedule. Never the less, this multi-artist EP includes some incredible music, each contributor appearing to have pulled out their best work.
The EP begins with the Argentine giant, Jonas Kopp. ‘Mountak’ is an exercise in driving melodic Techno, it feels comfortably fast pushing way out of lazy dancing territory and into full on raving mode. Having said that, its full force is only felt when listened across the whole seven minutes. At first glance, its melodic structure feels familiarly simple, but as the track progresses the chords swell and rise to euphoric levels. Kopp’s familiar control of the percussive elements is decidedly understated, leaving the chords and subtle leads to drive the track forward; it is an outstanding track from an artist on top of his game.
The next offering comes from Minneapolis native Dustin Zahn, ‘Forward unto Dawn’ feels slightly slower than the first track and perhaps suffers from it considering the minimal sound pallet. However, much like the Kopp piece it manages to blend a very familiar set of percussive tropes with refreshingly hypnotizing, chord drones. Again it is a piece that lends itself to an extended play, the slow build up is to be honest relatively dull, but as is gets into full swing by the four minute mark we are reminded why this mix of tension and release is so effective, particularly for the dance floor.
It was certainly nice to hear a new contribution from Flug on this EP. Across the Stray Landings team there was a lingering concern that the remixes on his last release for Sleaze overshadowed him slightly, so to see him produce something that stands out clearly on the EP is really impressive. ‘No Way Out’ feels much slower than the previous two tracks on the EP but this time is entirely appropriate. There is very little in the way of melodic development in this track, instead low swung drums are occasionally augmented by dissonant lead lines to head nodding effect. The tonal quality of the percussive repetition is outstanding and on the right sound system would be all the best kinds of hypnotic. The steady arrangement of the track and slow build ups, which on occasion are punctuated by outrageously obtuse synth flutters, make sure boredom is the last feeling produced by this aptly titled claustrophobic wonder.
To say that Sleaze saved the best till last is certainly difficult with an EP of this quality and pitting the last track against what was the firm favourite up until this point from Kopp is probably unnecessary. BUT, the three way collaborative track ‘RS7000’ from Tony Rohr, Billy Johnston & Gennaro Mastrantonio is to use the correct terminology… A BOMB! Up until the four minute mark we are treated to driving 808 percussion in the low end, and sharp and well placed percussion up top, and to be honest with you that would have been enough from them and it would have impressed me. But, at the 4 minute mark we are given an incredible twisting chord line, which builds up to what feels like a typical mega drop, only to be subdued again as the bass comes back in. This is the best of what dance floor Techno can be, both tough and emotive. Its composition is masterful and has to be the highlight of what is a really stunning EP from the Glasgow label. If quality like this continues, then this Sleaze select series may turn out to be a real treasure trove of future classics.
Words by Sean Hughes.
Tom Dicicco Interview
Tom Dicicco is an artist who seems to release cautiously, exercising an astoundingly high level of quality control over his own productions. The same can also be said of the music he releases as co-owner of Inner Surface Music (along with AnD), a label which’s short discography is wholly made up for by the quality of each release.
Dicicco’s latest venture comes in the form of a new solo fronted imprint entitled Run Out Run. With June seeing its inaugural release, we were given the opportunity to chat to the man himself about his new imprint, musical heroes, and how his time spent in Manchester affected his productions.
SL: So first off, how’s this year been going for you?
TD: I’ve had a great year so far thanks, most of it has been spent preparing the new label, I didn’t want to rush it so I’ve took my time making sure everything is right from the tracks chosen for the first EP to the type of sleeves I wanted to use. Everything had to be just right. It’s important for me not to overlook anything in the process from start to finish and I’m happy with where it’s at now with the first release ready to go.
SL: What was it that prompted you to set up your own label? Was it a case of wanting to release tracks you found it difficult to find a home for?
TD: It just felt like the right time to do it. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and after a discussion in Berlin with Carola and Philip at Pullproxy after my gig at Berghain in January I decided to start putting some ideas together and its progressed from there.
SL: Do you plan to use the label as an outlet purely for your own productions (similarly to how Perc Trax was conceived) or are there releases from other artists lined up?
TD: The first three EP’s will all be my own productions. That is what I have planned at the moment release schedule wise. After that I’m hoping to put out some collaborative work but I haven’t planned on putting any other artist’s solo work out, we’ll see what happens.
SL: I believe I am right in saying you are also co-owner of Inner Surface Music along with AnD, how do you think Run Out Run will differ in terms of its output?
TD: Yes myself and AnD run Inner Surface Music. We met while I was studying in Manchester. Andro worked at Eastern Bloc Records so I got to know him well through picking up records on my lunch break at university and at weekends and through Andro I met Dimitri. We were all into the same music and spent many evenings working on tracks at Dimitri’s house. At this time we were both thinking about a label and between us we decided to start Inner Surface. Run Out Run is a platform for my music as well as collaborative work, we set Inner Surface up to release other artist’s music we liked as well as our own so it’s more of an open label compared to Run Out Run.
SL: With releases on both labels coming up i’m taking it things are fairly hectic at the moment?
TD: Yes it’s quite hectic at the moment but not too crazy. There’s never any rush to release anything and get it out there for the sake of it. There’s been a small gap in between the last release on Inner Surface and the upcoming release but that’s not a problem for us. The next release on Inner Surface is a Various Artists EP featuring AnD, Truss, Ascion and Sunil Sharpe. I’m really excited about this as we spent a long time deciding on the tracks and what we felt worked best and now it’s all ready to go we’re all very happy with it. The first EP on Run Out Run will be out in June and is Part 1 of a 2 Part series. Part 2 will be out later on in the year. I’ll also have a track on the sixth Inner Surface release, which will also be out later on in the year.
SL: Who would you say your musical heroes are? Although you are based in the UK, to me your productions seem more inline with a more European brand of Techno.
I wouldn’t say they’re my musical heroes but my biggest musical influences would have to be Levon Vincent and René Pawlowitz aka Shed. For me they are the most consistent producers around and both have a very unique style, a signature sound. I think that’s the most important thing in music, to try and be as original as you can be and maintain that for as long as possible. If people don’t like it then it doesn’t matter because you’re being true to yourself. I do love UK Techno and for me James Ruskin is second to none. As for musical heroes mine would definitely be my dad, no doubt!
SL: Most of your releases have been solo. Is collaborating something that comes easily to you, or do you find it easier to work in isolation?
TD: I definitely find it easier working alone. Sometimes when working with other artists I’ll be sitting there and it’s as if I’ve never made a track before. I just feel incapable of coming up with anything half decent and look like an idiot. For that reason I prefer doing collaborations online, sending projects and ideas back and forth and working on them in my own time.
SL: To what extent do you think the work of your peers drives your own ambitions? I have read that you studied in Manchester, which has a pretty impressive roster of electronic artists.
TD: Moving to Manchester to study was the best decision I ever made. Having met AnD and then subsequently meeting Indigo, Synkro, Szare and Arnaldo meant there was a great bunch of us around swapping tracks and getting feedback, going to gigs and hanging around at Eastern Bloc Records. Manchester is an amazing city and I definitely miss it! For the past 6 years I have sent everything I have ever made to Answer Code Request. We’ve been friends for a long time and he’s been a huge influence for me. I trust Patrick’s judgment and know he’ll be 100% honest with me good or bad, which I really appreciate.
SL: Gaining such impressive support (such as from Jonas Kopp) whilst still in University must have been pretty intense, how have things developed over the last few years?
TD: Yes it’s very humbling to receive support from artists and DJ’s you have a lot of respect for and Jonas has supported me massively since the baud release in 2010, which I’m very thankful for. Since the baud release things have developed at a pace I’m happy with. I’m not one to rush things so I’m quite happy how things have developed over the last few years, not too slow and not too fast.
I have all my releases in place for this year so I can start work on making new material for 2014.
SL: How much of what you write makes it to a public forum? Would you say you exercise a fair amount of quality control over your productions?
TD: Yes definitely. There are many many tracks on my hardrive that will never get released, as I don’t feel there anywhere near good enough to be released. Sometimes I come back to old projects that are finished but went in the rubbish folder and use certain elements from them to create new tracks that do end up being released so it’s all a work in progress. I’d much rather put out 2-3 great EP’s a year than 5 average EP’s.
SL: And finally, what are your plans for the rest of the year? Any exciting gigs coming up?
TD: The rest of the year will be preparing new music for next year, and focusing on my gigs. In June I’ll be at the first Contrast party at OT301 in Amsterdam and at Untertauchen’s fourth birthday party at GoetheBunker in Essen, really excited about both of those. Then after that it’s more gigs and new tracks while trying to keep up with Game Of Thrones haha.
Spatial // Set Apart
Release Date: 13/05/2013
If confronted with select snippets from Spatial’s latest EP for WNCL, you’d probably be forgiven for thinking you were being presented with some fairly questionable 90s style Hard-House. With further listening however, it becomes apparent that there is a level of craftsmanship and musicality through the release that sets Spatial’s latest work miles ahead of its weathered and actually fairly distant relations.
Opener ‘Set Apart’ is perhaps a good summation of this, entering the setting of twisted Techno recently endorsed by the likes of MPIA3, through its use of overdriven kicks and crunchy high-end. It quickly veers off course however, partially relaxing into the jacking house styles typical of WNCL releases. This said, Spatial’s darker elements do not dampen themselves alongside the introduction of liquid rave stabs. ‘Set Apart’s second curveball comes at the midpost, with the introduction of some fairly inebriating string samples. These sickly-sweet textures are quickly joined by Spatial’s first use of vocal samples which run through a brief buildup, before dropping out as the track reverts back to its more simplistic origins.
Of the four tracks, ‘Right Now’ is closest in nature to ‘Set Apart’ as the majority of its attention is given to infectious house grooves, and similarly lighthearted rave chords.
The pairing of ‘Set Apart’ and ‘Right Now’ seems all the more logical when assessing the similarities between the EP’s other two offerings; the crazed, ‘Lost’, and similarly manic closer, ‘Syn Cop’. Both possess a fervent intensity created by Spatial’s fantastic use of acid hooks and contorted electro glitches. Of the two, ‘Syn Cop’ is the more affront, shaking off the shoulder-shrugging swung rhythms of ‘Lost’, in favour of breakneck Acid-Techno.
The WNCL press release includes a quote from Spatial - suggesting a desire to create something out of the ordinary, moderated by the hankering to produce material which is club friendly. To my mind the EP, as with most of Spatial’s releases achieves both these feats with an air of ease that suggests its nothing more than instinctive to him.
Words by Theo Darton-Moore.