A/B Music

Back in 2013 Hardway Bros put out this monumental piece of dance music, A/B Music, a dramatic collision of  cavernous acidic squiggles, metallic guitar and a driving, lurching rhythm track. A dark, propulsive dancefloor gem.

A/B Music is also Sean Johnston’s tribute to the sounds of Belgium in the mid-to-late 1980s and the Antwerp club that the track is named after (AB, Ancienne Belgique). Belgian New Beat was centred around slow, downtempo club music, DJs spinning dark European industrial music, Eurobeat pitched down from 45 rpm to 33, early house from Chicago, a minimalist precursor to house, acid and techno, played to full houses as the youth of Ghent packed into the Boccaccio club. A record label in Ghent have recently put out two compilations, each one a four CD box set, packed full of new beat. Volume One is here and Volume Two is here.

Gadji Beri Bimba Clandridi

June 2018 is a gift that keeps on giving in terms of images. In the picture at the top Diego Maradona celebrates Argentina finding some form of redemption against Nigeria (who didn’t deserve to lose to be honest). Diego danced with a Nigerian fan, celebrated Messi’s goal in ecstatic style, flipped double birds at fans below on the 86th minute winner and then had a health scare in the concourse. He is disappearing in a blizzard of coke. I love Diego in many ways but I fear for his health. In the picture below a resident of Mossley, in the Pennines east of Manchester, returns from the Co-op in a gas mask to protect from the moorland fires which have been out of control most of the week. The smell of burning peat hangs over the city.

Recently I have been a little bit obsessed with this song from Talking Heads in 1979. Byrne’s lyrics were adapted from a poem by the Dadaist writer Hugo Ball. The groundbreaking Afro-funk is the product of the band.

I Zimbra (12″ version)

It works well with this, out earlier this year from Sean Johnston’s Hardway Bros, a 2018 slice of Afro-funkiness.

That Hit

Flash Atkins is here with some uplifting, locked groove, slinky, tech-house, and there’s some lovely soulful vocals from Charlie Sinclair- waiting for that hit. Night time music.

The single comes with a remix by Hardway Bros, Sean Johnston bringing the buzzing bass to the fore, stretching it out and sending it into sci fi techno territory.

The Laser

There’s a lot of new music out now or imminently. Hardway Bros will put out a new ep at the end of May, 4 new tracks led off by this one- Friedman Feedback Loop Revision- where Sean Johnston loops some magic over a hi-hat and some drums and then lays waste to your speakers.

Sean’s ep releases over the last few years for New York label Throne Of Blood have been uniformly excellent, especially the Pleasure Cry 12″ from 2016 (with Argonaut being among the best tracks of the year to Bagging Area ears). If you want to catch up with the back catalogue you can get it all digitally at Bandcamp.

Sunday Style

This two hour set Sean Johnston did at his kitchen table for Diggers Directory at Stamp The Wax is a delight- a slow motion but building selection of cosmische, cosmic disco, New Beat and ALFOS styled chuggers, controls set for the heart of the, um,  kitchen. Kitchen dancing is the best.

Sensation

Trax was the legendary Chicago label that put out early house records, tracks like No Way Back by Adonis, Jamie Principle and Frankie Knuckles’ Your Love, Can You Feel It by Larry Heard, Marshall Jefferson’s Move Your Body and Phuture’s Acid Trax- pretty much the records that invented the scene.

In 2011 with the involvement of Bill Brewster, a DJ and writer who knows his onions, they put out an album of re-edits. Seven years on the album is a bit hit and miss although some of the reworkings sound pretty good (it’d be difficult to make a complete mess consdering the source material). Some of the re-edits are a bit too safe, missing the weirdness and WTF-ness of the original tunes, too reverential. In most cases you’ll want to hear the original straight after, just to confirm its mid-80s brilliance. The re-edits also tend to sound a bit samey, using the same kit and software that was then the cutting edge in 2011. But there are some worthy efforts in the double cd. Ron Hardy was as much as anyone at the centre of the mid-80s Chicago house scene, DJing with twin turntables and a reel to reel tape-deck and producing tracks too. Richard Sen’s re-edit of Sensation is a juddering monster with synth stabs…

Sensation (Richard Sen Re-edit)

Toby Tobias and Sean Johnston’s Hardway Bros add some sparkle and shimmer to Adonis’ We’re Rockin’ Down The House…

We’re Rockin’ Down The House (Toby Tobias and Hardway Bros Re-edit)

Theatre De La Mer

After a few years of holding the annual Convenanza festival inside the castle at Carcasonne this year’s Convenanza moved to the coast and and the port town of Sete. Convenanza is a three day festival organised by Bernie Fabre with a line up of artists chosen by Andrew Weatherall and Bernie- this year’s festival at Sete took place in the outdoor theatre shown above, the Theatre de la Mer where the backdrop is the Mediterranean Sea. I can’t get to the south of France for a weekend during term time but I have online sources who were there and provided a running commentary of pictures, clips, tunes and reports over the weekend. The line up for this year looked like this…
As the weekend wound down one of my social media friends was raving about the impact this song had when played in the theatre outdoors after dark. It’s a lovely Balearic chugger from 2012 by Coyote with a vocal by Gavin Gordon, the sort of song that takes you up and brings you down…
There’s a very good acid tinged remix by Sean Johnston , the half of A Love From Outer Space that isn’t Mr Weatherall. The same roving reporter on the dockside also pointed us towards this one by Norway’s Laars, a mid-paced dj set track that goes a bit loopy in the middle and seems to have set hairs on the back of the neck on end and arms in the air…
The ALFOS dj set, Weatherall and Johnston back to back, on Friday night closed with This Mortal Coil’s spine-tingling cover of Song To The Siren, Liz Fraser’s voice drifting out from the theatre to the sea, ‘Long afloat on shipless oceans, I did all my best to smile’…