View Active ThreadsCreate an account on HarderFasterLogin to HarderFaster Information for Promoters Information for Advertisers Search HarderFaster About HarderFaster Link to this Page
[HarderFaster] - Work Hard, Play Harder!
Home | News | What's On | Annual Poll | Photos | Forums | DJs | Features | Music | Venues | Reviews | Links |

  Vinyl Reviews - Expand

  Charts - Expand
30th Oct 2007
20th Aug 2007
3rd May 2007
5th Apr 2007
16th Mar 2007
29th Jan 2007
22nd Dec 2006
30th Nov 2006
30th Oct 2006
27th Sep 2006

  Columns - Expand
24th Sep 2009
6th Nov 2007
5th Jan 2007
22nd Aug 2006
29th Mar 2006
6th Feb 2006
6th Jan 2005
30th Jun 2004
23rd Apr 2004

  Features mentioning
  DJChewy - Expand
[colour=red]Blast vs Frantic NYE Preview - Steve vs Will - The Hardest Men in Hard Dance![/colour], 30th Dec
HHA: Frantic's 7th Birthday @ Brixton Academy: The Review, 29th Aug
Review of Cream, Amnesia opening party. , 15th Jul
The Thirsty DJs Interview with DJChewy, 25th Apr

HarderFaster DJs >> DJChewy >> Column

Column by DJChewy
Submitted 06-Nov-07 (55433 views)
I've not put up a column for ages but here's an article regarding mnml taken fron the guardian for those who are interested Smile
Techno music has been pared down to create the super-trendy 'minimal' sound sweeping out of Berlin.
One of the best places in Berlin to watch the sun rise is from inside the massive Watergate club, on the banks of the River Spree, in the trendy Kreuzberg district. The side facing the river towards the east is glass-plated floor-to-ceiling; between 5am and 7am, the room is gradually transformed from a dark, heaving mass of European bodies syncopating themselves to a house beat into a gloriously sunlit morning-after.
Berlin has been the spiritual home of dynamic, forward-thinking dance music for much of the past decade, house and techno in particular; it is a hub where artistic talents converge and nascent genres emerge to spread across Europe. The combination of a famously liberal attitude towards partying and a startlingly low cost of living has made the city a magnet for art scenes of all descriptions, a hedonistic centre of creativity where clubs open on a Friday night and often don't close until well into the following week, and where three-day parties are par for the course. It is home to some of Europe's most famous clubs (Watergate; the dungeon-like, labyrinthine Tresor; Berghain, a gothic building which looms up from an industrial landscape) and achingly hip dance labels (Get Physical, Bpitch Control, Cadenza).

Article continues

The sound that has been filling those clubs and distributed on those labels, and which has exploded across the continent, is broadly known as minimal. Over the past five or so years, it's grown from an arcane subdivision of techno into an ubiquitous buzzword on the dance scene. Even two years ago, minimal techno was still the preserve of the so-hip-it-hurts sunglasses-at-night set. Its trendiness was endearingly encapsulated in the website, a charming soap opera written about the adventures of minimal figureheads Ricardo Villalobos, Magda and Richie Hawtin. In 2006, minimal finally crossed over, though, when Gabriel Ananda's 10-minute percussive epic Doppelwhipper exploded across Ibiza.
"For a few months, anything on any minimal German label sold," says Simon Rigg, manager at London record shop Phonica and longtime supporter of the sound. Now, even the unlikely figure of of Black Eyed Peas has somehow cottoned on: his forthcoming album samples minimal's biggest 2005 hit, M.A.N.D.Y., and Booka Shade's Body Language - though he is still some way behind Kylie Minogue, whose 2003 No 1 Slow was essentially a minimal track with an added pop vocal.

Characterised by simple, spare beats and subtle sonic details, minimal can baffle novices: how can music with seemingly so little to it manage to work dancefloors into a state of frenzy, let alone cross over to casual dance fans? But there is a rich emotional pull to the best minimal records: furthermore, by stripping all extraneous sound from a track, all the subtle details - shifts in tempo, melodic phrases, textural effects - are magnified a hundredfold. It is equally cerebral and physical: on the dancefloor, you can lose yourself in thinking about how the dots join up with each other even as your body moves automatically to the beat.

Craig Richards, techno house pioneer and resident of London superclub Fabric, has been a minimal enthusiast since first hearing Basic Channel records in the 1990s. "At first, people were irritated by simplicity, frightened to be absorbed by a sound so simple in the same way that people in art galleries are threatened by minimal abstract paintings," he says. "Only now are people willing to be engaged by very little." Rigg, meanwhile, has an alternative explanation for its rise in popularity: "A lot of people have suggested it's all linked to the popularity of [the drug] ketamine, which means that you can listen to 17-minute minimal epics for hours."

Another factor in the surge of popularity is how minimal has evolved - or rather, what the term "minimal" has come to mean. It has always covered a multitude of styles: the gap between the m_nus label's austere, menacing minimal techno and the lush microhouse and pop-friendly hooks favoured by Michael Mayer's Kompakt label is vast. Now, "minimal" is an umbrella term covering a massive swathe of house and techno - much to the annoyance of dance connoisseurs, whose second favourite activity after dancing to techno is semantic hair-splitting, and who cannot bear to see the label "minimal" stuck on music they think does not merit it. In fact, the resilience of the name is a testament to its popularity, despite its increasing meaninglessness as a term; it is also in large part the result of the scene's sense of community, wherein even a label releasing chunky, maximalist techno (such as Areal) is tagged minimal purely because its artists associate with true minimal artists.

Two of 2007's key albums find two leading lights of the sound pursuing very different paths. Mathew Jonson is the classically trained Canadian founder of the Wagon Repair label; his Cobblestone Jazz project is an unlikely fusion of techno with jazz. For five years, it has been a live project based on improvisation and interaction with Danuel Tate and Tyger Dhula, the other musicians who comprise Cobblestone Jazz; the album, 23 Seconds, is a gorgeous, loose-limbed, trippy affair that retains the easy spontaneity at the heart of the project.

Ricardo Villalobos, meanwhile, is a Chilean exile in Berlin (his family fled Pinochet's regime when he was three) whose name is spoken in minimal circles with a kind of hushed reverence: his reputation as an auteur has been cemented by a string of seminal releases including last year's Fizheuer Zieheuer, a 37-minute epic based on a Hungarian wedding song. His own new release is ostensibly a mix compilation, the 36th in the Fabric series, but it's comprised entirely of Villalobos' own new tracks. To all intents and purposes it is his third album; uncomfortable with his own reputation, though, Villalobos has opted to release it in this way so as to avoid excessive hype. It is a revelation: Villalobos spends the first quarter gently easing the listener into his mind, skeletal rhythms weaving in between each other without ever impinging themselves too heavily; slowly but surely, though, he begins to pull out his tricks and the madness begins to set in.

The 12-minute centrepiece, Andruic & Japan, is a riot of thunderous tribal drums and what appears to be a lone female voice (in actual fact the voices of Villalobos and a friend fed through a machine) that begins conversationally, and ends up in an insane rant about chicken giblets. Dark, unsettling, and possibly enough to induce psychosis on the dancefloor, the album finally breaks into the light with the gloriously sunny Primer Encuentro Latino-Americano, based on a traditional Chilean folk song.

Villalobos and Jonson are good friends, but their attitudes to their art could not be more different. Villalobos is, to put it bluntly, a renowned party freak: in most pictures he is dishevelled, wild-haired and wild-eyed. I interview him a week before his girlfriend gives birth to their first child; when asked how his lifestyle will be affected, he sighs deeply before replying, "I guess I will have to go home after the first afterparty instead of the fifth."

He rhapsodises about partying endlessly - "I try not to miss a single opportunity for happiness" - and casts his hedonistic lifestyle as a political act: "We are living in one of the most unjust situations in human rights in the history of all humanity. It is a bad energy which is taking control of the world, like cancer. It's important to find the little light in between all this blackness, to find your space and fight for your right to party, to build up a worldwide net of people who want to have a good time and to forget reality for a while. I try to deliver the music to make the quality of escape better."

Jonson, on the other hand, is more introspective. He talks at length about how the process of production is an attempt to recreate the music in his head: "If I go into a museum or art gallery, I'll hear music in my head - not a song, but a non-stop progression in real time. Often I hear something in my head which is far better than anything I could conceptualise or write ... I'm hoping as I get older I'll be better able to capture that." Until recently he based himself in Vancouver rather than Berlin for artistic reasons: "In a city which doesn't have a club scene, I find that more creative - because there's less to do, all the musicians are hanging out with each other and making music. And I don't really take inspiration from clubs - nature inspires me. Art, architecture, the weather inspires me. And girls."

What both agree on, however, is that at the heart of minimal techno is a yearning for liberation. Returning to the theme of location, it is no coincidence that postcommunist Berlin has become the scene's hub, or that Villalobos pinpoints Romania as the country most likely to produce the next generation of techno leaders. Hedonistic freedom will always hold special significance for those who have known the absolute lack of any freedom: Villalobos himself, an exile from Pinochet's regime in Chile, identifies with that idea, while Ellen Allien, the founder of the Bpitch Control label, pinpoints the moment when the Berlin Wall came down as the key to her work. In minimal techno, what is not in the music can be as important as what is there: the gaps in between the beats and the melodies provide the spaces in which the dancers can find liberation, to free their minds by losing them. Villalobos smiles, and says merely: "That freedom is what I want to give to everyone."

Minimal classics - six to hear

Luciano: La Limonada De Pepe Bombilla (Mental Groove, 2002)

Early insanity from a minimal pioneer involving a sweaty tangle of beats, miniature digital explosions, a druggy drawl and some very menacing laughter.

Âme: Rej (Defected, 2005)

A masterpiece of sonic pointillism: a constellation of dramatic plucked strings rise imperiously from a bed of echoing, spreading synths to form patterns in your head.

Gabriel Ananda: Ihre Persönliche Glücksmelodie (Karmarouge, 2005)

Dubbed the "most melodic man in minimal", Ananda's first crossover hit is decadently tuneful, from the dreamy synths to the buzzing, anthemic acid bass that crashes the party and the gorgeous counterpoint melody of the final stages.

Booka Shade: In White Rooms (Get Physical, 2006)

Built seemingly out of little more than air currents and wordless vocal snippets, this immaculately crafted, texturally sumptuous piece builds up to a dreamy rush of a climax.

Audion: Mouth To Mouth (Spectral Sound, 2006)

The sound of this track's frankly petrifying wobbly chainsaw noise looming out of speakers was ubiquitous last year. Music for bouncing off the walls to at 5am.

Estroe: Driven (Connaisseur Supérieur, 2007)

A keening siren song anchored by thick, rich bass, this is a rapturous flight of fancy. Estroe, the Dutch woman responsible for it, is a nurse by profession.

  Upcoming sets:

  Recent sets - Expand
Big Chill Presents .... RWD LIVE, 25th Feb
Winter Babies-Winter Wonderland Special, 4th Dec
Poisoned Republic, 21st Nov
THIRSTY DISKO!!! , 24th Jul
ABSTRACT - Winter Wonderland, 13th Dec
THIRSTY DISKO!!! vs the GALLERY !, 28th Nov
The Gallery with Sander van Doorn, 28th Nov

HarderFaster Jump
Bookmark and Share
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. All other content is (c) 2001-2024 HarderFaster.

Terms and Conditions | Privacy Statement | Text Mode