Time to ditch the robots? Five years on from ‘Random Access Memories’, we deserve something truly DIFFERENT from Daft Punk…

Five years ago this week (17 May to be exact), Daft Punk unveiled their fourth studio album (or fifth if you include 2010’s Tron Legacy soundtrack), Random Access Memories.

Following a series of teasers, the ridiculously catchy Get Lucky stormed the charts in April of that year, leading Messrs Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter to pick up a myriad of industry awards, including Grammys for both Best Dance/Electronica Album and Album of the Year.

Reviews were also gushing – the NME gave it 10 out of 10, while Resident Advisor praised the LP’s rooting in a “now-ancient aesthetic: ’70s staples, like crisply recorded California studio music, or the kind of deceptively sophisticated New York disco that Nile Rodgers, one of the album’s key guest artists, popularised with Chic.”

Five years on, however, I would argue that Random Access Memories has aged far quicker than any of the robot duo’s previous work, and a return to the drawing board in urgently in order.

While the album has some undoubted high points – Giorgio By Moroder is an electronic symphony, while closing track Contact is one of the group’s best – tracks like The Game of Love, Instant Crush and (especially) Fragments Of Time are, in a word, forgettable.

Even Get Lucky, which was perhaps the biggest track of 2013, has been overplayed to saturation point.

This month, May 2018, also marks a quarter century since the band was first christened, when Dave Jennings of Melody Maker described the group’s early work, under the band name Darlin’, as ‘daft punky thrash’, in a review of May 1993.

Within a year, Bangalter and de Homem-Christo had crafted tracks such as The New Wave (later rechristened Alive) and Drive, and a new, edgy era in electronic music had begun. Homework, which followed in January 1997, remains essential listening more than 21 years later.

As Random Access Memories turns five, attention will undoubtedly turn to ‘what Daft Punk do next’, and I would argue that in order to truly look forward, the duo should seek to reignite that excitement that accompanied their early years.

It’s there on raw-as-nails tracks like Rollin and Scratchin, in live album Alive 97, and in the filtered disco masterpiece One More Time, on Discovery. More recently, I really enjoyed the duo’s intro theme from Tron Legacy; a building, brooding synth track with ne’er a vocoder in sight.

Yes, you will argue, all bands need to evolve, and Daft Punk cannot simply rewind the clock and ditch the high-end production values for a Roland TB 303 and a couple of pre-programmed drum machine patterns.

But close to two decades on from when the duo first adopted their robot alter egos, I think it’s time we saw another side to Daft Punk. And I don’t mean another tie up with The Weekend.

Even polished chrome gets a bit rusty after a few years…

[PS: I am aware that somebody calling themselves User19972001200420132019 on Soundcloud (dates that happen to coincide with the release of Daft Punk albums) released a track snippet earlier this year which may or may not be from an an-yet untitled new Daft Punk album. Given its vague authenticity, I have chosen not to comment on it, however there’s plenty of discussion on the topic on the official Daft Punk Reddit.] 

Dave Angel, speaking in 1993: “Techno came from jazz years ago, and forty years from now, techno will be like jazz…”

Having found fame for his seminal mix of Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams in 1990, Dave Angel has been one of the hardest working men in dance music for more than three decades now.

Back in 1993, the ‘tech funk’ pioneer gave an interview to Fantazia, which has been archived on the rave promoters’ website.

In it, he reveals the tough path that led him to music, and why jazz musicians like Charlie Parker have had a big influence on his career.

“If I got up one morning and felt really pissed off about a f*ing tax man or whatever, and I want to get my aggression out, then I’d get it out in my studio, but if I feel really happy and my son is making me smile then I’d do something really melodic.”

And as for the future of dance music, from a 1993 perspective?

“I’m getting older and you have to do things whilst you are young, but you are never too old to do anything,” Angel says in the interview.

“Techno came from jazz years ago, and forty years from now, techno will be like jazz. All the people that lived in this era will re-live their memories. Jazz is coming into the music scene a lot now, and it’s good that the British notice this and are opening their minds.”

Time for Jeff Mills et al to put away that 909 and take up the trombone, in other words?

The full interview can be found here: www.fantazia.org.uk/DJs/djdaveangel.htm

INTERVIEW: 909originals joins forces with legendary Haçienda resident Graeme Park…

Few DJs can claim to be at the epicentre of a movement, but as resident DJ at the Haçienda in 1988, Graeme Park was at the forefront of the acid house wave.

From those legendary Nude nights in the famous Manchester nightspot, through to shows on Kiss FM, Galaxy and Radio City, not to mention his role in creating the Haçienda Classical tour, Graeme now produces his own weekly mix show, the Graeme Park Radio Show, which airs on a myriad of stations both in the UK and around the world.

And you can now find it here too…

909originals is proud to announce that we are now syndicating Graeme’s weekly mix show, with a new two-hour set landing every Friday.

Looking for the perfect weekend warm up? Look no further…

You can find this week’s mix at the bottom of this post. Before that, 909originals caught up with the maestro himself to talk music, mischief and memories.

INTERVIEW WITH GRAEME PARK – May 2018

909originals: Describe the Graeme Park Radio Show?
Graeme Park: Two hours of big tunes, new tunes and classic tunes too.

We’re now 30 years on from 1988 (and all that). Why do you think that people are still so interested in the origins of the dance scene, old school and everything that goes with it?
If you discover any type of music that’s new to you regardless of how old you are and when you first hear it, it’s natural and instinctive to find out where it all began. In the case of acid house, the second Summer Of Love, The Hacienda and the people involved in the scene at the beginning, there’s a great story to accompany the music and that just adds to the appeal.

You’re probably best known for your time as resident at the Hacienda. When do you think (what year, month etc) the penny dropped: ‘f**k, we really have something going here’?
Mike (Pickering) and I knew something big was happening early 1988. We could feel it. It took a few months for the rest of the country, particularly London and the South East, to catch on though.

Hacienda Classical started two years ago: a crazy/brilliant idea that has since been replicated by DJs and orchestras around the world. Did you really think it would work?
We planned it as a one-off because we didn’t think it would work. We’ve since performed two different shows over 40 times around the UK. We’re just about to start touring with a third different show with another 20 plus dates in the UK and overseas. People just love it. Who’d have thought?

Dance music has arguably never been bigger, or more commercial. What would you like to see change or be introduced, to ensure a long and healthy future for the industry? (After all, when acid house started, they only gave it six months!)
Just let people do what they want. That’s how dance music evolved and continues to do so.

Find out more at thisisgraemepark.com

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Cubic 22 – Night In Motion (1991)

Ok, admit it. How many punters shelled out on this 12″ thinking it was 808 State – Cubik?

Night in Motion, the second single from double act Cubic 22 (Danny van Wauwe and Jos Borremans) actually shares a lot in common with the Manchester group’s breakthrough hit, and like other Belgian rave classics of the period (T99’s Anasthasia, anything by Frank De Wulf), it has stood the test of time well.

Like Bizarre Inc’s Playing With Knives, released the same year (1991), it also essentially has two diametrically-opposed ‘movements’, a piano-led house groove followed by a scything synth breakdown.

Originally released on Big Time International, the tune was soon licensed to XL Recordings, a label that could do no wrong at the time.

All together now… “PARTY TIME!” 🙂

[Kudos to Abstructure for the YouTube upload]

INTERVIEW: Altern-8’s Mark Archer: “I pretty much loved everything from 1986 to 1992…”

***Exclusively published by Future Past Clothing. The full interview can be found here. ***

The word legend gets used a lot, but Mark Archer, better known as one half of Altern-8, has produced some of the biggest stompers in dance music history, from acid house to techno and back again.

Tracks such as Activ-8, Infiltrate 202, E Vapor 8, Frequency, Brutal-8-E, Armageddon, Move My Body and Hypnotic St-8 are all worthy inclusions in the annals of rave history, and to this day, Mark certainly knows how to keep the party going, as his devastating Boiler Room from Nottingham demonstrated.

The self-styled ‘Man Behind The Mask’ comes to Dublin this weekend, to play back-to-back with Techno & Cans, in the warehouse-style surrounds of Hangar.

Ahead of what promises to be a fantastic evening, 909originals is proud to present an interview with Mark by Dean Foster of Future Past Clothing, carried out earlier this year.

Interview with Mark Archer

Q: What were the main inspirations that made you want to start producing music?

The acid house coming out of Chicago in 1987 and the techno coming from Detroit were the main reasons I wanted to start making my own tracks. I never once thought that I’d do anything that was any good, as when I started I had no idea about production or what equipment was needed.

Hooking up with Dean [Meredith] was the push in the right direction I needed and we had an immense amount of good luck at the start which helped us greatly.

What tune do you wish you had written?

There’s loads of tunes I wish i’d written but probably the main one is LFO by LFO, it was just at the pinnacle of that scene and set the standard for so many other groups to try and follow.

As Nexus 21 [Archer’s previous, Detroit-influenced side project] was more techno-influenced and successful in the underground, what was the main inspiration for creating Altern-8 and changing direction into rave?

Altern-8 wasn’t a conscious plan to do a side project. We had so much studio time given to us as sort of payment for tracks we’d had out on Blue Chip records. I was being influenced by much more than just the Detroit techno that was the main influence for Nexus 21, so the tracks we recorded still had that feeling to them but the label didn’t want to put them out as Nexus 21.

By the time we had recorded the follow up in 1991, the sound of Altern-8 had been decided and was more of a breakbeat rave sound than what we had recorded before.

Did you ever imagine you’d get the chart success you achieved with Altern-8? What did that level of fame feel like? Were the gas masks about hiding your face, so that the music took centre stage?

I honestly never imagined my career would ever take off when I first started. After less than a year recording as Nexus 21, the label we were signed to and studio we used went into liquidation, so I thought that was that.

With Altern-8 being just a vehicle to get these eight extra tracks out, chart success wasn’t really something we were aiming for at all so when Infiltrate blew up on promo it all came as a bit of a shock.

The masks came about because while Infiltrate was on promo, we were asked to do a live PA at the Eclipse, it wasn’t something we’d even thought about doing as Altern-8, because we were still touring as Nexus 21. We had already played the Eclipse earlier in 1991 as Nexus 21, so didn’t want to look exactly the same on stage when we did the Altern-8 gig, so that’s when we got hold of the NBC suits and I made the masks.

Why do you think the rave scene imploded so quickly?

Mainly because after years of media persecution and what amounted to a witch hunt by the government to try and stamp it all out. New laws came in that made it nearly impossible for raves to be put on, which drove the whole scene into clubs.

Which is the best track, in your opinion, that you made?

If it was an Altern-8 track it would either be Infiltrate 202 or Frequency. If it’s any track that i’ve recorded it would be Dream Plant. It’s a track I recorded in around 1996 and was what I wanted to do in 1989 but I didn’t have the production knowledge. It was released in 2007 on a label called DS93 (only 93 copies were ever pressed). It’s being reissued soon on a label called ARTless, from Berlin.

What music do you listen to now when not performing?

I listen to a lot of 80’s funk, soul and electro. All the StreetSounds electro compilations and stuff like that. I get sent a lot of music digitally, so I also listen to new stuff but it all tends to be music with a retro sort of feel to it, like new acid house that sounds like old Chicago stuff or new breakbeat hardcore.

Techno, rave, house/acid house – if you could only choose one, which would you choose as your favourite?

Probably techno – the late 80’s, early 90’s Detroit stuff though – as that’s really what did it for me back then. Acid house is a very close second. I pretty much loved everything from 1986 up to 1992 really, those were the best years for me.

For someone who has had such incredible success and doesn’t just rest on his laurels, what’s left to achieve? What is your biggest ambition for the future?

To keep playing for as long as people will listen to me. Without anyone liking what you do, you haven’t got a career at all so i’m going to keep plugging away at it. This year’s a special one as it’s my 30th in the industry.

It’ll soon be 30 years for Altern-8, and i’d like to do something special that year and maybe record a Mark Archer artist album as it’s something i’ve not done yet.

The full interview can be found here. To read more about Mark Archer’s incredible career, check out his biography, The Man Behind The Mask.

Alternatively visit www.markarcher.co.uk for more information.

[Special thanks to Dean Foster of Future Past Clothing]

A night out at the Haçienda, Manchester… [1995]

Following on from the announcement of our tie-up with Haçienda resident Graeme Park, here are a few snapshots of a night out in the legendary Manchester venue, from 1995.

The club closed in June 1997, and it’s notable that in these images, taken by Clive Hunter for Getty Images, the smiley t-shirts and acid house paraphernalia best associated with the venue are gone, and clubbers appear to be going for a more grunge/soulboy look.

Embed from Getty Images

Call out to all readers of 909originals: if you have an old photos from the Haçienda (or indeed from any other seminal venue of the 1980s or 1990s), drop us a line, we’re always on the look out for new (old) material. 🙂

[Photos by Clive Hunter, Getty Images]

Justin Robertson on why music should be an ‘obsession’… [March 1992]

As well as becoming a household name for his work with Lionrock, Justin Robertson has been one of the hardest working men in dance music for around three decades, holding residencies at clubs like Bugged Out! and Sleuth, as well as remixing everyone from The Sugarcubes to New Order.

Back in 1992, The Face magazine caught up with the then 23-year-old Robertson, as ‘Manchester’s first Balearic DJ’ was resident at clubnight Most Excellent.

“A lot of DJs seem to have a mission – I don’t really, apart from the music,” he explained. “To me it’s vital, almost an obsession to keep on top of what’s going on. I still go potty at least once a week over certain records.

“I’ve still got a real fan mentality, it’s important to keep passion alive.”

Justin Robertson on why music should be an 'obsession’… [March 1992]

26 years later, that passion appears to be as strong as ever.

[Article taken from The Face, March 1992, Photo by Peter Walsh]

Tony De Vit: “Once I get into a club and people are going beserk, there’s no other feeling like it.” [January 1997]

Former Trade and Heaven resident Tony De Vit, who passed away 20 years this year, was one of the ‘breakthrough’ names of 1996, as he followed a memorable Essential Mix with the first compilation for Boxed’s Global Underground series (Live in Tel Aviv).

In January 1997, Mixmag caught up with the hardworking Kidderminster native, as he looked back on his most successful year to date.

‘Did you enjoy 1996?’, the interviewer asks.

“Yeah, every second of it. What I never thought about is most of your time is spent in a car driving, not playing records. But once I get into a club and people are going beserk, there’s no other feeling like it. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”

Sadly, De Vit, whose style would go on to influence the nascent hard house genre, passed away barely 18 months later, of bronchial failure.

[Article taken from Mixmag, January 1997, photo by Antonio Petronzio, YouTube upload by Francisco Criollo]

The Kitchen Nightclub closed 16 years ago today…

Arguably the finest purpose-built club venue this country has ever seen, the U2-owned The Kitchen Nightclub closed its doors on May 4th, 2002.

With Podje and Dave McDonnell on the decks, that final night was an emotional one for all involved, particularly the two dozen or so (including myself!) that were made redundant.

I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven Bono for that one.

“We have been monitoring the situation for quite some time. There are so many new places that have opened and the environment has also changed,” Clarence Hotel manager Robert van Eerde told the Irish Independent at the time. “We are looking ahead and the Kitchen needs a change. Things are changing and we want to be at the cutting edge of that.”

Cutting edge? Ha! It would take nine years for the venue to reopen, again as The Kitchen, and as a shadow of its former self.

In its current guise, as The Liquor Rooms, it’s a very stylish place to spend an evening (or indeed a Sunday afternoon at the Vinyl And Wine listening sessions).

But every time I’m there, I look at the people around me, and I have to restrain myself from yelling… “Do you lot have ANY IDEA of the MADNESS that used to take place here!!!”

Here’s to everyone that lost their handbags in the moat, lost their ticket to the cloakroom and lost their minds on the dancefloor. The Kitchen is dead, LONG LIVE THE KITCHEN!

Here’s a mix that includes some old Kitchen classics, by long-time resident Podje.

[Venue photos by John Searle for John Feely Architects, crowd photo from The Kitchen Facebook page]

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Public Energy – Three ‘O Three [1992]

If Change The Beat, released on R&S Records in 1991 established Dutchman Jochem Paap (aka Speedy J, aka Public Energy) as a producer worth watching, the Hemi-Sync EP, which followed a year later, made him a household name in the world of techno.

While the A-sides, Hemi-Sync part 1 and 2 are solid techno grooves, it’s side B that contains the true gem, Three ‘O Three, a steadily-building acid monster that sounds like it was crafted in a dingy warehouse in Rotterdam at about five in the morning.

It’s a track that is relatively simple, but incredibly effective, a continually-rising crescendo of techno goodness.

As Discogs user Maroko puts it, “Three O’ Three is living proof of how you don’t need to conjure the unthinkable in order to record classic stuff; the main thing is to think of it first, and throw in the right amount of already familiar ingredients. There’s little in the track you haven’t heard before or after, but it’s the way in which he combines it all that makes Three O’ Three stand about 303 feet above most of its contemporaries.”

Perfect words to describe arguably the perfect techno track.

[Kudos to ohfuku for the YouTube upload]